Coaches Corner: Georgia High School Association to consider hoops shot clock

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Christian Heritage School boys basketball coach Tyler Watkins directs his players during a 2019 practice. In today's edition of Coaches Corner, Watkins and other local high school hoops coaches talk about a Georgia High School Association proposal to add a shot clock to high school basketball.

Coaches Corner is a series of stories about a variety of issues that coaches must deal with on and off the playing surface. Today, how do local coaches feel about the possible use of a shot clock in high school basketball? The Georgia High School Association is set to vote on the addition of a shot clock during a June 23 meeting of the state executive committee.

Keri O’Neal hasn’t coached a game in her new position as Murray County High School’s girls basketball coach, but the rules may change before she does.

A meeting of the Georgia High School Association is set for June 23, when the state executive committee is expected to take a vote on whether to add a 30-second shot clock for high school basketball.

“My first year in, I’d definitely like to test the waters first, but I can definitely see the good and bad of it,” O’Neal said of the proposal.

The plan would see the three-year phase-in of the shot clock. For the upcoming season, the shot clock would be used only in specific holiday tournament and showcase games. In year two, regions would be given the choice of whether to use the 30-second clock. In 2022-23, the shot clock would become mandatory for all GHSA-governed schools.

“As a coach, I wouldn’t mind it,” said Ryan Scoggins, the boys basketball coach at Dalton High School. “I like a faster pace of play, so that kind of matches up with a shot clock.”

Shot clocks are not new to the game of basketball. The NBA has used a shot clock since 1954, and the NCAA adopted it for all universities in 1985.

As of last basketball season, eight states — California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington — had statewide use of a shot clock.

A shot clock was used at a few high school exhibition games in Georgia as an experiment last season, including the Hawks-Naismith Tipoff Classic in November in Atlanta.

Christian Heritage School boys basketball coach Tyler Watkins said the shot clock would have a minor effect on most of the game for many schools.

“Let’s be honest, most high schools already aren’t taking 30 seconds to get through their offense,” Watkins said.

“I don’t know for how many offenses it would really matter a whole lot,” Scoggins said.

When the shot clock will come more into play, the coaches said, is late in the game.

“I kind of like the aspect of being able to come back a little bit more quickly if you’re down late. The other team won’t be able to hold the ball,” Watkins said.

O’Neal has experience coaching as an assistant at the collegiate level in stops at Morehead State University and Belhaven University, where shot clocks were in use.

“That would mean more possessions for each team,” O’Neal said. “Teams would have to think about strategy a little more late in the game instead of holding the ball and slowing the game up.”

“It’ll take more practice time to prepare kids for when the clock gets down under 10 seconds,” Watkins said. “They’ll need to know what to do to get a shot.”

One positive of a shot clock, O’Neal said, would be getting high school basketball on the same page with colleges.

“It would help get kids ready for competition in college if they want to go on,” she said.

One challenge would be each school having to install a shot clock system and finding personnel to properly operate it. Systems can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

“That’s just one more thing to have to add,” Scoggins said.

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