Hoops coach Watkins leaving Loudon

Trae Watkins coaches during Loudon High School’s Feb. 12 home game against Lenoir City.

After four years at the helm, Loudon High School boys basketball coach Trae Watkins is leaving the Redskins.

“It was just based on a family decision and what we thought would be best for our family,” Watkins said of the decision to leave Loudon. “It was an unexpected opportunity. We were called about it and we just called and did our research and we felt like it was there right thing to do.

“It didn’t have to do with basketball or teaching or anything like that,” he added. “It was just the right thing for our family.”

Watkins, who took the Loudon job prior to the 2012-13 season, will coach as an assistant under former Bearden coach Mark Blevins at Buckhorn High School in Alabama. Watkins played under Blevins for two years at Bearden and later served as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs before taking the position at Loudon.

“Coach has done a lot for a lot of his guys,” Watkins said of reuniting with Blevins. “When we were at the other school it was a family atmosphere. Me and him talk frequently. He’s become a close friend and a mentor and somebody whose opinion I really respect.

“For me to leave a great program like Loudon, it would have to be somebody I would really respect,” he added. “… There are a lot of people where I wouldn’t even consider or think about it, but his opinion and thoughts and the things we discussed really made me feel like it would be the best thing for my family.”

Buckhorn High School has as Nike Elite sponsorship, Watkins said, and will be part of a rebuilding project under Blevins. The school previously had a rich basketball history, he added.

“They’ll be doing some unique things,” Watkins said.

Watkins will continue to serve as a special education teacher at Buckhorn, just as he did at Loudon. His wife will also teach at Buckhorn.

The announcement of Watkins’ departure was made official Monday. Watkins notified Ronnie Roberts, LHS athletic director, of his decision Sunday afternoon.

Wiley Brakebill, who has served as an assistant under Watkins in each of his four seasons with Loudon, will take over as interim head coach while Loudon irons out details on its search for a replacement, Roberts said.

Watkins was 43-67 as a head coach for the Redskins. His best season was in 2014-15 when the team was 13-15 overall and finished with a 7-1 district record during the regular season before being upset in the district 5-AA tournament by Sweetwater.

The Redskins were 7-19 last season.