North has its man.
Eric Hammond has been hired as the Redskins' next boys basketball coach, athletic director Mike Church announced in a news release Monday. Hammond replaces longtime City League coach Gary Squires, who resigned after the 2017-18 season.
Hammond played at Northwest. He said he remembers playing at North and feeling the tradition around him. He said he is honored to be part of that now.
"I remember playing in the traditional gym," he said. "I remember hearing the band and hearing that war cry and knowing that you better bring it, and I want to bring that to North High."
Hammond spent the past eight seasons at Southeast under coaches Carl Taylor and Melvin Herring, helping coach City League standouts such as Jerrick Harding and Israel Barnes.
Leaving Southeast was a hard decision, Hammond said. The Buffaloes return a handful of young, talented players, including All-City League selections Micah Jacques and Shawn Warrior.
But the memories and connections he made at Southeast made it even harder, he said.
"I learned a lot from coach Taylor on how to run your program and establish your expectations," Hammond said. "And Mel has been the ultimate coach to look up to. He really cares about the kids, and I saw that."
Hammond said he is ready to lead his program the right way. He has been waiting for a head coaching gig for years, and he couldn't help but smile when he talked about what it meant to him.
Church cited Hammond's character as part of the hire.
"I have no doubt Coach Hammond will be very impactful immediately as a teacher, coach and mentor to all of our students," Church said in the release.
North finished 10-12 last season after losing in the Class 6A sub-state finals. Hammond said he is ready to try to improve upon that mark.
"There was a lot of joy when I got that phone call," he said. "I'm elated. There's a lot of hard work that goes into becoming a head coach and realize this opportunity."