ARCANUM — Jim Melton is finally getting his chance.
The longtime assistant basketball coach at numerous schools in Indiana has been hired as the new head varsity boys basketball coach at Arcanum.
Hired on Monday — the same day as new athletic director Jason Schondelmyer — Melton has spent the last several days this week hosting an open gym and a couple of practice sessions with his players in an effort to get to know them. So far, things are looking promising, he said.
“I’ve been waiting to be a head coach for some time now,” said Melton, who did spend one year (2015-16 season) as the interim head coach at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis. He’s been an assistant coach at Winchester (Ind.) High School the last two seasons.
“It just seemed like the perfect fit for me and my family,” Melton said of his interest in the position. “My wife and I discussed it, we prayed about it and unlike a few other jobs I prayed about I felt like I got an answer to be here. I am grateful for this opportunity and I am looking forward to being part of the Arcanum-Butler family.”
Arcanum was 11-11 this past season (5-7 in the Cross County Conference) and lost in the first round of the Division III sectional tournament to West Liberty-Salem. The Trojans will return a number of players from last year’s squad including rising junior Carter Gray. The 6-foot-2 forward led the Trojans in scoring with 15.9 points per game. He was an All-CCC first team selection.
Also returning is rising senior Evan Atchley, a 6-2 guard who averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a junior. He was an All-CCC special mention player last season.
“I think we have a nice nucleus of returners,” Melton said. “We’ve got some veteran leadership and guys with varsity experience, but I am kind of getting kind of a late start here with just 10 days of practice time ahead of us in July, but from what I have seen so far I have seen a hard working group of young men and that is half the battle. They’ve got a good work ethic.
“In fact, one of the first things I said to them when we met on Monday was that I never won a championship that wasn’t a family environment,” he continued. “To be a strong family you have to have a lot of love. We’re going to instill positive characteristics that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Their success will not be measured by wins and losses alone. It will also be the type of men the will become. That’s the most important thing to me.”
Melton, who hails from Union City, Ind., where he played three years of varsity basketball, has been coaching basketball for 18 years, he said. His mentors include coach George Griff (Richmond, Ind.) and Ed Schilling (Wright State University, University of Massachusetts, Memphis University and now Indiana University).
“Coach Griff showed me a lot and so did Coach Schilling, who spent a couple years at Park Tudor,” Melton said. “I’ve been exposed to a lot of systems. My library is humongous. I have a book shelf that is 10 feet long by 7 feet high full of books and binders.
“For us, right now we are getting used to each other,” he continued about the coaches and the players. “I may not run what at ran at Park Tudor here. I will base that on the personnel we have and what system gives us the best opportunity to succeed.”
Melton believes it could take a couple years for the success to begin showing, but there may be some positives even this first year.
“Realistically, I believe it will take a couple years for us to start reaping the fruits of our labor,” Melton said. “But I do think we could see some positive results even this season. As with anything it is going to be a process and there will be some growing pains, but it’s just a super exciting time and I’m glad to be here.”
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