The Conway Wampus Cats boys basketball team has a new face roaming the sidelines.
By approval Tuesday from the Conway School Board, Marcus Adams will be the head coach of the Wampus Cats heading into the 2022-23 season.
Conway athletic director said coach Brian “Salty” Longing wanted to take a step back from being a head coach and focus on teaching, but will stay on board to be an assistant coach.
“[Coach Longing] and I have been talking about this for a year,” Ashcraft said. “He’s put in 30 years. He didn’t want to retire, but wanted to continue teaching and be an assistant coach. We’ve talked about doing this two or three times and he got what he wanted.”
With Longing stepping back, this left a vacant head coaching position after the job was posted mid-May.
Ashcraft said the candidate pool got as large as 25 or 30 names, but in the end Adams stood out.
Adams comes from Watson Chapel after a four-year stint with the Wildcats, tasked with rebuilding Watson Chapel’s program.
“Words can’t describe how deeply humbled and blessed I am for this opportunity,” Adams posted to his Twitter account. “Thank you Watson Chapel for believing in me these last four years in building a program. Excited for the next chapter in this journey and ready to work… Go Cats!!!”
Adams’ work ethic and his desire to be in the gym were what helped Adams stand out, according to Ashcraft.
“He has a tremendous work ethic,” Ashcraft said. “Any kid that wants to work, he’d be at the gym. He wants to be there. That’s what the places he’s been before said.”
Adams started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Pine Bluff in 2009, where he stayed for five years. His journey led him to be a junior high coach at Morrilton and then on to North Little Rock for a year.
Then, of course, he went to Watson Chapel where he helped build a struggling program into back-to-back state tournament appearances.
“It’s been a journey, but I’ve worked hard to get here,” Adams said. “I’ve worked with a lot of great coaches in this state. I always tell my guys that hard work pays off.”
Adams is making the jump from Class 4A Watson Chapel to Class 6A Conway, which is the state’s highest classification for basketball.
“I am humbled to be coaching at the highest level in the state,” he said. “I’m excited to be here and never thought I’d get an opportunity like this. I’m humbled and blessed to be here.”
Upon arriving in Conway, Adams was already doing work and meeting his team.
Adams met with the team Wednesday, going over the coaching staff’s expectations, as well as playing up to that “always wanting to be in the gym” trait.
“We got together with the kids and told them what we expected out of them and allowed them to start working if they wanted to,” he said. “Ten guys came out working last night and this morning, there are two guys in here right now.”
Though being a basketball coach is his title, Adams said he wants to be more than his team’s coach.
“I love getting the opportunity to build relationships and mold these young men,” he said. “Not everyone will get to play college basketball, so I want to get them ready for those next steps whether it be working a job, going into the military, starting a family. I want to show them with energy, effort, enthusiasm and hard work, they can get to where they want to be. Hard work really pays off.”