Denison boys basketball coach resigns

After two seasons as Denison’s head boys basketball coach, Joe Barnett has stepped down from the position.

“I felt it was time for me and my family to make a change as a whole, not just for basketball,” he said.

Athletic director Chad Rogers is in the middle of a search to find a replacement and expects to have someone hired by the end of the month, if not sooner.

Barnett, who is open to coaching opportunities in the future, was 15-49 in his two seasons at Denison. The Jackets were 5-26 overall and finished last in the District 13-4A standings this past season. Denison went 10-23 and was fifth in 13-4A, two games out of a playoff spot, in 2011-12.

He was elevated from his assistant position when Jody Bass retired after the 2010-11 season, which was the last of five straight playoff appearances by the Yellow Jackets. It was Barnett’s first opportunity to run a program and he was being groomed to take over at Denison when Bass was hired to replace Scott Curran. Curran had brought Barnett up from the middle school to join his staff.

“Even when Coach Bass was here, I was doing head coach stuff outside of running practice and the games,” Barnett said. “I knew it was going to be harder when it was all mine.”

Barnett played for Denison from 1991-94 under Bob Clayton and then returned to the school district as a middle school coach after graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State. He was in that position for four years before serving as a varsity assistant for seven seasons.

“In 2000 when I started as a seventh and eighth grade assistant, I told myself I was going to work as hard as I could to be the head basketball coach at my alma mater,” Barnett said. “I want what’s best for the basketball program here.”

The Jackets will lose four starters to graduation — Daniel Batey, Clifton Hines, Josh Henry and Keondrick Golston. Among those returning are rising seniors Jaleel Dade and Will Parker and McShane Wyatt, who was the Jackets’ top option and second-leading scorer off the bench as a freshman.