Dustin Terrel eventually wanted to return to college basketball.
Having been an assistant coach at Belmont Abbey College, Terrel left last year to become the head girls coach at Myers Park High School and promptly led the Mustangs to the Class 4A state semifinals. With four of the top six players from that squad returning next season, and most of them underclassmen, Terrel figured he’d be at Myers Park at least a few more years and then pursue the college ranks again.
Then Wingate University came calling three weeks ago.
Newly hired Wingate women’s coach Ann Hancock wound up offering Terrel the job as her lead assistant and, after days of vacillating, he accepted on May 27.
“I just thought, ‘If I’m going to move to the college game (again), I’ve got to do it now, when I’m young,’” the 29-year-old Terrel said. “I still have time to go back to the high school level at another time, if that’s what I decide to do. But I felt this was something I needed to do right now.”
Terrel’s new job will be vastly different from the one he held at Belmont Abbey, and he’s excited about working with Hancock, a Wingate graduate who replaced Barb Nelson, the former Providence Day coach who resigned May 4 and will replace Terrel at Myers Park.
“At Belmont Abbey, I was basically part time,” Terrel said. “I didn’t do much recruiting or anything. (At Wingate), I’m the first assistant, while I was the third assistant at Belmont Abbey. At Belmont Abbey, I was kind of helped fill the gap; at Wingate, I am the gap. I’ll get to go on the road recruiting.”
In his only year at Myers Park, Terrel’s Mustangs went 31-1 and held the top spot in the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group Super 7 rankings most of the season.
Next season, though, they’re expected to be even better, with rising sophomores Aliyah Mazyck and Rydeiah Rogers joining rising junior Saadia Timpton and senior India Timpton in the starting lineup. Each player is a college prospect.
“It was very difficult leaving a team that was 31-1 and had everybody coming back,” Terrel said, “We weren’t just a team; we were a family.”
That, he said, made it especially difficult when he informed the team of his decision on May 29.
“It was the hardest meeting I’ve had,” he said. “I really felt bad about the timing because this (next coach) will be their third coach in three years. But I didn’t have a plan to leave. I wanted to stay here and win a (state) championship.
“When we left (the meeting), everybody was kind of quiet, and I understood that. I told them, ‘I don’t want you to talk now. I’ll meet with you individually before the school year is over,’ and I’ve almost met with all of them. And I’m still going to have a good relationship with all of them.”
Barb Nelson to lead Mustangs girls hoops
Myers Park High lost an up-and-coming basketball coach when Dustin Terrel stepped down to become an assistant coach with the Wingate University women’s team.
It appears the program will be in good hands, however.
On June 6, Myers Park athletics director Rick Lewis announced that the school has hired veteran Barb Nelson to replace Terrel as the Mustangs’ girls coach. In an interesting twist, Nelson and Terrel are switching locales, as Nelson resigned last month as Wingate’s head coach.
Although Nelson had a strong five-year stint at Wingate, where she led the team to three NCAA Division II tournament trips, she’s best known throughout the state as an uber-successful girls coach at Providence Day School.
While coaching at Providence Day from 1986 to 2007, Nelson posted a record of 437-176, winning seven N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association championships.
“We look forward to having Coach Nelson here,” Lewis said in an e-mail. “Barbara is just what the doctor ordered for MP with the loss of a talented young head coach like Dustin.”
Nelson also has experience coaching at the international level, having led the U17 National Team to a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in France. She led the U16 National Team to gold at the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico and was named the USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year in 2010.