By James Kay
For the first time in 12 years, Oak Park and River Forest High School will have a new leader running its boys basketball program.
In a press release issued June 17, the school announced that Phil Gary will be its next head coach after its month-long search to find a replacement for longtime coach Matt Maloney.
According to the press release, Gary graduated from the school in 2007 and served as an assistant coach to Maloney during the 2013-14 season. Gary also served as an assistant coach at Walter Payton College Prep for five years before taking over as head coach of the program last season.
"I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to come back and coach where I've made some of the best memories of my life," Gary said in the press release. "I plan on promoting a culture that will focus on positivity, discipline and enjoying the game of basketball, and am looking forward to the continued success of the OPRFHS basketball program."
In terms of his playing career, Gary played alongside NBA veteran and former Huskie Iman Shumpert in the backcourt during the 2006-07 season. After graduating in 2007, he moved on to Malcolm X Junior College (where he led the nation in assists with 9.9 per game) before accepting an athletic scholarship at Florida International University. According to FIU's website, Gary averaged 9.6 points per game and 3.3 assists per game.
The release also stated that he moved on to play professionally in India for one season as well as one season in the NBA's Developmental League (now known as the G-League).
"I felt ready for the next level after playing under [former longtime OPRF basketball coach] Al Allen and alongside Phil," Shumpert said in the press release. "The OPRF community is in great hands with Phil teaching and pushing young players the same way we were pushed. The Huskies need their state title!"
OPRF's athletic director John Stelzer also added the following statement:
"We are thrilled to have Phil Gary leading the Huskie basketball program," Stelzer said. "When we started this search, we wanted to find a coach who was familiar with our communities and our school, was high energy and had the ability to build positive relationships with our student-athletes, and who was respected by all stakeholders and had a passion for coaching at OPRFHS."
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