Former Evarts standout brings Johnson Central team to HCHS


Kim Henson

Former Evarts basketball standout Jim Bob Hicks is in his second year as coach at Johnson Central High School. Hicks’ Lady Eagles won 41-25 on Wednesday in scrimmage action at Harlan County High School.

Jim Bob Hicks was a standout guard at Evarts High School from 1986 to 1990.

A four-year starter who ranks fifth in Evarts High School history with 1,274 points, Jim Bob Hicks was back in Harlan County on Wednesday for a scrimmage at HCHS as coach of the Johnson Central Lady Eagles.
Hicks was a member of the most successful family in Evarts basketball history as the nephew of Hall of Fame coach Billy Hicks. All three 52nd District basketball titles in Evarts history featured a member of the Hicks family, beginning in 1963 when Jim Bob’s dad, Robert, was a guard on Charlie Hunter’s squad.
Evarts didn’t win again until 1983 when Billy Hicks was coaching at his alma mater and the Wildcats upset both Cumberland and Cawood to win a championship at Cumberland High School. That team was also the last Evarts team to win a game in the 13th Region Tournament with a victory over Oneida Baptist. The Wildcats fell to eventual champ Middlesboro in the semifinals in Hicks’ last game as coach, before going on to Harlan, then Corbin and finally Scott County.
David Parks was an assistant coach on the 1983 team before taking over as head coach the following year. The Wildcats shocked Cumberland in 1988 at Cawood High School to win what turned out to be the school’s final 52nd District title as Jim Bob Hicks, then a sophomore, hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Another of Hicks’ uncles was Hershel Hicks, a standout athlete at Evarts High School in the 1960s who was later inducted in the state’s softball hall of fame.
Hicks then went on to play at Lees College before beginning a long coaching career. He was an assistant under former University of Kentucky guard Travis Ford at Campbellsville, then coached high school teams at Owsley County, Green County, Bath County, Grant County and Shelby Valley. He coached a girls team for the first time last year at Johnson Central and his Lady Eagles improved from six wins to 21.
Hicks said he enjoyed his trip back to Harlan County and his first visit to HCHS.
“Today was the first time that I have been in the new Harlan County gym.  The gym and school are amazing,” Hicks said. “Harlan County will always be home to me. I have so many great memories from there. Playing and attending school at Evarts meant a lot to me. I played for a great coach in David Parks, and I was able to play at the same school that my dad, Robert, and all of my uncles attended.”

Billy Hicks, pictured as the coach at Corbin in the 1990s, set the state record for coaching wins in his career at Evarts, Harlan, Corbin and Scott County.
Hershel Hicks, a standout athlete at Evarts High School in the 1960s, is pictured as a coach at Evarts in the late 1980s talking with coach Kelly Trosper.