‘A fit for us.’ Douglass hires ex-Dunbar coach to lead boys basketball program.

Last season, for the first time in 27 years, Murray Garvin watched high school basketball as a commentator and a fan rather than a coach.

Miked up for the streaming company, the Pikeville native and former Paul Laurence Dunbar and college coach called some of the biggest games in Lexington in front of capacity crowds for rivalries that included Frederick Douglass, Bryan Station and Henry Clay.

Monday afternoon, Garvin was introduced as the fifth boys head basketball coach in Douglass’s seven-year history and the fourth in four years.

“Seeing the atmosphere, feeling the excitement in Lexington when those three schools got together, that’s part of the draw of being here right now,” Garvin said.

New Frederick Douglass boys basketball head coach Murray Garvin spoke to members of the media during his introduction ceremony at the high school on Monday. Jared Peck/
New Frederick Douglass boys basketball head coach Murray Garvin spoke to members of the media during his introduction ceremony at the high school on Monday. Jared Peck/

With a talented team led by standout juniors Armelo Boone, Aveion Chenault and sophomore DeMarcus Surratt, Douglass claimed its fifth consecutive 42nd District championship last season under interim head coach Stephon Harris, who’s expected to remain on Garvin’s staff.

Douglass is also expected to return most of its lineup after graduating two senior reserve players.

“It would be really sweet to have all those guys,” Garvin said. (Boone, Chenault and Surratt) are, to me, the three best guards in the state of Kentucky. … They compete. They play hard. They are unselfish. And if we can maintain that roster, we have an opportunity to do something special.”

The season before, the Broncos won the 11th Region championship and reached the Boys’ Sweet 16 semifinals under another interim head coach, Wes Scarberry. Scarberry took over in the wake of the abrupt dismissal of Jason Moseley at the start of the 2022-23 school year. However, before last season began, Scarberry stepped away from the program in what was announced as a leave of absence. He did not return to the sidelines.

Boone, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard offered by Western Kentucky among other schools, led the Broncos in scoring with 20.8 points per game last season. He acknowledged having four coaches in four years is “crazy.”

“I don’t know much about (Garvin), but I do remember playing him my freshman year. He’s a pretty good coach in my opinion,” said Boone, who added the Broncos’ team chemistry has helped them through the various changes. “We’re going to do a better job of leading our senior year. I’m excited about next season.”

Three years ago, Garvin was named to succeed retiring state championship coach Scott Chalk at Dunbar. In his first season, Garvin led the Bulldogs to a 14-13 record and a runner-up finish in the 43rd District. In his second season, Dunbar fared worse, going 10-21 and falling to Lexington Catholic in the district semifinals.

In the middle of that season, Garvin stepped in as Dunbar’s interim athletic director after the tragic death of Jason Howell, the AD and former Pikeville football teammate who helped hire him. Garvin subsequently decided to step away from coaching and was part of the hiring committee for Dunbar’s next coach, John Morgerson.

Monday, Garvin admitted he noticed an “aura” around Douglass and its athletic programs during his time at Dunbar.

“From the social media presence to the championships to the players to the community engagement that was happening, I knew that this was a program that was about hanging banners and graduating young men and giving them opportunities at the next level,” Garvin said. “I knew that if the opportunity ever came about, I would want to be a part of the brand that is going on here.”

Douglass (21-13) lost to Lexington Catholic in last season’s 11th Region semifinals, closing an up-and-down season that saw them rout eventual Boys’ Sweet 16 runner-up Harlan County in February but also lose their first-ever game to 42nd District rival Sayre a week later.

With Garvin, Douglass hopes it has found a steady hand. Douglass athletic director Jeremy Dulaney said he’d admired how Garvin handled himself as a coach, assistant athletic director and interim athletic director at Dunbar. That, combined with Garvin’s background as a college coach, helped sway the hiring committee, he said.

“I knew what kind of man he was, and I knew he would be really good for our kids, turning them from boys into men,” Dulaney said. “He has a great knowledge of the college recruiting process being a former college coach. We’ve got quite a few kids that we want to really get out there and promote. … He was just a fit for us.”

Garvin spent 11 seasons at South Carolina State, nine as head coach, with his most successful season coming in 2015-16 when the Bulldogs went 19-15 overall and 12-4 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Prior to that, he coached Winston-Salem State to the CIAA Southern Division championship and an NCAA Division II Tournament in 2009-10 and took Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, S.C., to the Carolinas Junior College Conference Division I championship in 2004.

Garvin also spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Tates Creek High School in the early 1990s. The Commodores were scheduled to introduce their new boys basketball head coach Keaton Belcher on Tuesday.