New Boys Hoop Coach Settling In

O'Neil Lubin Takes Charge

Jasmine Boyens, Staff Writer

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Diamond Jacobs/PHOTO

Diamond Jacobs/PHOTO

Less than a decade removed from running the floor as a key part of Oak Ridge’s boys basketball team, O’Neil Lubic is back to run the whole program. In August, Oak Ridge hired Lubin, a former Pioneer guard, to fill its vacant head coaching position after Orange County Public Schools decided not to approve the school’s previous choice, Edward Francis, for the job.

Lubin said the move was somewhat surprising given that he had talked about his desire to become a coach but didn’t expected to happen so soon.

Lubin said his familiarity with Oak Ridge and the background of its students has helped him connect with the players. Lubin was a key member of the school’s state runner-up team during his senior year. The team fell just two points short in the championship game that year. 

Just by being one of those kids, I can relate, and they can relate to me, as well. So it’s easier for me to get straight to the point and be more direct.”

— O'Neil Lubin

“Just by being one of those kids, I can relate, and they can relate to me, as well,” said Lubin. “So, it’s easier for me to get straight to the point and be more direct.”

An advantage that Lubin has is that he is young. Junior guard Michael Devoe, who has offers from several major Division I schools, said, “He gets to connect with the young guys like us. He gets to be on the same level as us and he’s just inspirational because he strives to be great.” Devoe, who has his eyes set on the NBA, gives Lubin a huge weapon. The team also features senior Antwann Jones, also a guard and also a major Division I recruiting target.

Athletic Director Antony Fisher said the players here are visual learners, so having someone who can show them how to do something when coaching makes it so much better for them.

Lubin says that his goals as a coach are to build morals and principles that help build young men and help them be ready for the next phase in life, whether it is college or the real world. He also likes to challenge them daily, whether it be mentally or physically, and wants them to become one family.

Lubin has instilled in them his motto: begin with the end in mind. And he motivates the team by always reminding them of the goals they have set for themselves and the team. He also believes in another mantra: communication is key, and said he tries to take them out of their comfort zone. “I force them to meet someone new and talk to someone different,” Lubin said.

Jones said that he and the rest of the team are still getting to know their new head coach. In the early weeks of the school year, Lubin’s guidance was already obvious. Jones said Lubin made sure he was in class and doing his work both academically and to prepare for the season.

Lubin said the team’s potential is through the roof. Thus, he has set high expectations for the team.

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