Andy Hill is going home.
Hill, a 2004 graduate from Northwest, has accepted the boys basketball coaching job at his former school Monday, according to the Wichita school district. He replaces Bryan Chadwick, who resigned after Northwest finished 5-16 in his fourth season.
Hill has spent the past two years as coach at Newton, his first experience leading a program. He said he will always be grateful to athletic director Brian Becker for taking a chance on him.
“A lot of people wouldn’t do that,” Hill said. “And the kids as well. They bought into me. I didn’t really have any ties to Newton, no experience, and they got on board.”
Hill is leaving a promising program behind in Class 5A. The Railroaders finished the regular season 9-10, but sophomore Ty Berry, a potential Division I prospect, still has two more seasons at Newton.
“It was an extremely difficult decision for me,” Hill said. “Our potential of what we could do next year wasn’t really a factor. What made it so difficult was the relationships.”
Newton was ousted 62-58 in the first round of the sub-state tournament to Salina Central, this year’s Class 5A runner-up to Bishop Carroll. Hill said there was only one job in Kansas that could have pulled him away from Newton.
“And that just happened to be the one that came available,” he said.
Hill was an assistant at Northwest from 2008-14 after graduating from Newman University. In his time back home, he said he learned a lot about coaching and the culture at Northwest.
“When you’re a student and a player, you don’t see the bigger picture,” he said. “You think you do, but you don’t. Going back as a coach, you learn that not every kid in your program is gonna eat, breathe and sleep basketball.
“It’s your job to try to blend those pieces together.”
In 2014, Hill became an assistant at Andover, and two years later, the coach at Newton.
Hill, 32, has experience that made him a candidate for a City League job. Although Northwest didn’t win a game the second half of the season, Hill said he is excited to get started.
“I’ve already spent 10 years of my life there,” he said. “It’s a special place. You can see the success of all the programs, and I truly feel that the basketball program is a sleeping giant.”