After building his resumé up in Gwinnett County basketball, Will Witherspoon’s first head coaching job will be in neighboring Walton County.
The 2000 Berkmar graduate was hired Friday as the new head boys basketball coach Walnut Grove, replacing the outgoing Ryan Terry. The Warriors went 14-12 last season and missed the state playoffs.
“It’s a newer school and it reminded me, walking around the building, it reminded me a lot of Berkmar when I went to Berkmar as a student and I was a player there,” Witherspoon said. “I got that feeling of home. They’ve had a little bit of success, not a lot. But it’s one of those places where the community backs the school. I really enjoyed that. I felt very comfortable. I just felt at home. It felt natural for me.”
The 37-year-old helped Berkmar to a state championship as a high school senior, then played college basketball for Air Force and Life University. He worked outside of education initially, but fell in love with coaching when he began working with Berkmar and Georgia Stars AAU players in the summer.
He first joined his alma mater as a lay coach, but returned to school for his teaching certification. He has taught math since going into education.
Witherspoon coached five years at Berkmar (three as a community coach), then two at Mountain View, where he helped the Bears to a region championship. He was an assistant coach at Grayson this past season for another region championship team.
He was a finalist for several Gwinnett head coaching jobs in recent years, but the first school to hire him ended up being outside of the county.
“Gwinnett’s home,” said Witherspoon, who lives near Archer with his wife and four young children. “Gwinnett’s raised me. I left for a little while in college, but Gwinnett will always be home.”
Witherspoon’s initial coaching staff will include his younger brother Wesley, also a Berkmar grad. He is a former player at Memphis and in pro basketball, both overseas and in the NBA G-League. Wesley was a community coach for Shiloh during the 2018-19 season.
The brothers hope to transition their past success to Walnut Grove, which landed a coach with experience in a variety of programs.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to be part of some really good teams,” Witherspoon said. “Coach (Greg) Phillips was coach of the year twice, Coach (B.J.) Roy was coach of the year my first year at Mountain View and Coach (Geoffrey) Pierce got coach of the year this year. I’ve been fortunate be part of some really good teams from a coaching perspective. I think my own coaching style will pull a little bit from everywhere I’ve been. I’m so excited to get going.”