Open in App
  • Local
  • U.S.
  • Election
  • Politics
  • Crime
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Education
  • Real Estate
  • Newsletter
  • Northwest Florida Daily News

    Choctaw hires former college assistant to be head boys basketball coach

    By Seth Stringer, Northwest Florida Daily News,


    In the hunt for the most coveted high school boys basketball job on the Emerald Coast, Evan Wyllie checked off every box for Choctawhatchee High.

    College experience. Check.

    Success at the high school level. Check.

    Knowledge of the game. Check.

    Passion for the game. Check.

    A players' coach. Check.

    Whittling down around 50 applicants to eight in-person interviews to a who's who of four finalists, Choctaw athletic director Andy Thigpen and the hiring committee "got it right" in finding Michael Memmen's successor.

    Spring Football:Niceville football flashes potential, attracts SEC recruiters in spring game

    Four-Peat:The unlikely story of how Niceville track and field kept its FHSAA crown

    "Really he had the overall package," said Thigpen, who would know considering he left the job for AD duties in 2021 after leading Choctaw to a state runner-up finish.

    Wyllie said the same about Choctaw, which he initially became acquainted with as a member of the staff at the University of West Florida. There, he was a graduate assistant from 2019-21 and then an assistant coach from 2021-22.

    "They came to a team camp of ours, so I knew a little bit about the school and had seen the team play," Wyllie said. "A coach at the time said that's a good high school job right there, so I just filed that away. After (my wife and I) left UWF and came back home to Illinois, a goal of ours was to get back to the area if the right fit and job presented itself."

    And it did. But to be fair, Wyllie wasn't even looking until a friend pointed out the opening as he has spent the past two seasons as the coach at Lincoln-Way Central High School in suburban Chicago.

    The rest, however, is history, Wyllie's resume separating him from the pack as he proceeded to say and do all the right things in the interview process.

    On his coaching philosophy, Wyllie said he's always been defense-minded.

    "If you're struggling on offense, good defense always give you a chance to win ballgames," he said. "A lot of that is instilling toughness, because defensive-minded players get after and force turnovers and teams into bad shots. Discipline is also a big part of it, getting the players to fight for it everyday. I definitely think we have the personnel to do it."

    On expectations out of the gate, Wyllie said the Big Green should "compete for district championships" and from that will come opportunities for deep postseason runs.

    On getting players seen on the recruiting trail, Wyllie said "I think I've got a pretty good feel of what it takes to get to that level and be a scholarship player. I was able to develop contacts all over the country, including junior college, Division I and Division II. I've casted a wide net of helping kids get to where they want to go and what fits. Because it's really all about that fit."

    Wyllie will be at Choctaw High on Tuesday to tour the campus. He'll then have a meet and greet with the players at 5:30 p.m., kicking off the start to what promises to be an exciting offseason for the Big Green.

    Expand All
    Comments / 0
    Add a Comment
    Most Popular newsMost Popular

    Comments / 0