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Wildcats look south for coach

This time, the Wildcats have their man.

Wesley Chapel, scrambling to find its third boys basketball coach in four months, plucked one from one of Hillsborough County's top programs, naming Jefferson's Doug Greseth as its new coach.

"We were looking for experience and somebody with maturity who knows how to make the right decision at the right times," Wesley Chapel principal Andrew Frelick said. "Everyone I talked to said this guy walks on water; that he would be a great role model for our kids."

Greseth, 46, has been coach at Jefferson for four years, taking the Dragons to the region playoffs three times and going 70-39. Before that, he spent two years as an assistant at the University of Tampa and coached at Okeechobee High for 10 seasons.

"He's certainly the man I had hoped would get the job," said former Wildcats coach Kent Mills, who moved to Indiana after leading Wesley Chapel to back-to-back final four appearances. "He's very well-respected in the coaching community in the Tampa area, and I think he fits very well there."

Greseth replaces Ahmad Smalls, who was hired in May but arrested less than a month later on charges of soliciting a prostitute.

Frelick now entrusts his school's most successful program with Greseth, who will teach physical education at Wesley Chapel.

"I was very impressed by their administration and coaching staff, and I'm really excited about the fact that they have a lot of talented, young, dedicated players," Greseth said. "It's the kind of situation I was looking for."

Jefferson reached the playoffs in Greseth's first three seasons, improving from 15-10 in 2000 to 20-8 in 2001 and 23-6 in 2002. Last season, he went 12-15.

Greseth said his players' commitment factored into his decision.

"What it came down to was that there are just a few really dedicated players at Jefferson right now," he said. "I'd rather be someplace where I have more players who are dedicated."

The change in administration at Jefferson, where principal Danny Riveiro left and athletic director Ron Cugno took a job at East Bay, also factored into Greseth's decision.

"With the new principal and athletic director, the comfort level he had with those people left it open to cut ties and move up here," Frelick said.

During Greseth's tenure, Jefferson had the Times Hillsborough County Player of the Year in guard Terence Kinsey, now playing for South Carolina. The Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association honored Greseth with its William Bethel Award after his first season.

Wesley Chapel finished its summer league last week, losing the final to Ridgewood by two points despite playing mostly with an interim coach. Greseth said he believes his new players will show no effects of the coaching changes.

"I think kids are more resilient than you give them credit for sometimes," he said. "I have a lot of experience, and I've won wherever I've been. I think once they see what kind of coach I am, I think a lot of that stuff will be forgotten."

Greseth said he has not finalized a staff and had not told his former players about leaving.

Varsity basketball coaches in Pasco County earned a supplement of $2,616 last season.