Monday night, United Faith Christian boys’ basketball coach Gary Gadsden will coach against his son, Ty, a 17-year-old junior point guard at Victory Christian. The teams meet at United Faith, a private school in southeast Charlotte near the Arboretum Shopping Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” said Gary Gadsden, in his first year as head coach at United Faith. “It’s abnormal. It won’t feel the same going against him.”
“I have to admit,” Ty Gadsden said, “it’s going to feel a little weird.”
High school experts say they can remember many high school coaches coaching their sons. At Concord Robinson, for example, head coach Lavar Batts Sr. is coaching Lavar Batts Jr., a sophomore All-American. A few years ago, Providence Day football coach Bruce Hardin coached against his son, Blair, when Blair was head coach at Union County’s Porter Ridge High.
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But no one can recall a high school coach coaching against his son – when his son was playing for the other team.
“My instinct is it might have happened, but I cannot think of a single example,” said N.C. High School Athletic Association spokesperson Rick Strunk, a historian of N.C. high school athletics with more than 40 years of experience. “Honestly, I have to admit, it’s kind of rare.”
Rick Lewis, a longtime AAU coach who now runs the Phenom Hoop Report scouting service, hasn’t seen this kind of Dad vs. Son matchup, either – and his travels take him throughout the Southeast.
“That’s an awkward situation,” he said. “As a coach, you’re wanting to win, but you want your son to do good, too. That’s a tough one.”
This is how Monday night came about.
Last season, Ty Gadsden emerged as one of the top N.C. players in his grade, leading United Faith to the N.C. 1A private school state semifinals. His father was assistant coach to Muggsy Bogues, the legendary Charlotte Hornets point guard who rebuilt the United Faith program. But Bogues, a player favorite, left after the season and many of the Falcons’ current and future players scattered. Gary Gadsden was named head coach, but wondered if he would have enough players to field a varsity team.
With his son receiving multiple Division I scholarship offers, he had to make a tough decision – he would coach at United Faith and try to put together a team, but he would move his son to a more stable environment. He chose Victory Christian, a longtime N.C. power with multiple state championships.
“I made the decision because of the unknown at United Faith,” Gadsden said. “Would we have enough kids to field a varsity team? I never thought about me having to coach against him. But I had to make a good decision for my child and removed the coaching label from myself and thought as a dad.”
Ty Gadsden, 6-foot-1 and jet quick, has flourished at Victory Christian, ranked among the state’s top 20 teams by MaxPreps. He leads the team at 23 points per game and averages a team-high seven assists. He has scholarship offers from DePaul, Abilene Christian and Penn State. His father said he’s receiving strong interest from LSU, George Mason, Charlotte, Alabama and Tulsa.
Lewis, the recruiting guru, ranks Gadsden No. 19 in North Carolina and No. 4 among N.C. point guards in the class of 2016.
“He’s an explosive scorer,” Lewis said. “He can also get his teammates involved. He has a college-ready frame. He’s a physically strong point guard who can score at all three levels.”
On Monday night, his dad will try to stop him. There’s probably nobody in North Carolina who could give United Faith a better scouting report. United Faith (1-8) is led by 6-4 senior Ben Bennett, who averages 20 points. The Falcons have an eight-man roster, but Gary Gadsden said two of his players don’t have previous basketball experience.
“My wife (Dondria) thinks this is funny,” Gary Gadsden said. “She thinks my son is going to beat her husband. She sees all the hard work he puts in and doesn’t think I’m saavy enough to stop our son. But she knows it’s weird. She wants us to be together on the same team, but she knows this move was in the best interest of our child to get to the next level, which for him is hopefully college basketball.”
Ty Gadsden said he will try to treat this like any other game – but admits it will probably be impossible.
“I’ve always wanted to see what it would be like going against my dad,” he said. “I’m always used to him being on my bench. This decision was pretty tough, but we knew that Victory was the best place for me academically and athletically.
“I guess neither of us thought much then about playing each other, but now it’s almost here and I’m just there to get my teammates involved. This is not going to change how I play.”