Coach Steve Wallace Excited to Take Over at Shawnee Heights

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Shawnee Heights will have a different look next season with the graduation of eight seniors and departure of head coach Sam Stroh.

However, don’t count out the T-Birds, who will be guided by new coach Steve Wallace after stints as a women’s coach at Kansas and Tennessee Tech and as the boys head coach at KC Piper.

(Photo courtesy: Kansas Athletics)

“I’m really excited, I’m glad to be a head coach again,” Wallace said. “It’s fun to try to mold kids on the court trying to get them to do what you think is best and off the court just being a mentor and a role model for those guys, I really missed that part when I was away from the high school level. It’s an awesome opportunity. Coach Stroh did great the last couple of years. Heights in the past has won four state championships so there is some tradition at the school. Hopefully I can keep rolling what Coach Stroh had going. I know he lost a lot, but I think we have a lot of talent left. Hopefully we can bring in a state championship, but at the end of the day I just want the kids to have a great experience and 10 years down the road be in each other’s weddings.”

Wallace will be counting on rising juniors Trey Brown and Poncho Freeman, and rising senior Ahmad Winston, who were key role players on last year’s 20-3 team that advanced to the 5A state tournament. The team camp will begin on June 1 and Wallace will get a better idea of the players in the program, but already has an initial impression of the group after meeting with the team earlier this month.

“They’re extremely excited to get going,” Wallace said. “It sounds to me like we have some gym rats. With the parents, families, and staff at Heights so far has been great so far. They’re very welcoming and friendly and have already helped me out with a lot of stuff. The administration at Heights has been awesome. I ask for something and they just say, ‘let’s figure it out’ so that’s awesome.”

Wallace, 31, played at Olathe East High School and one season at MidAmerica Nazarene University before transferring to Kansas and beginning a career in coaching. He started his career as an intern in the Utah Jazz organization before becoming a women’s graduate assistant for two seasons at Kansas. He spent one season at Rhode Island and Tennessee Tech before taking over a KC Piper program that was 4-15.

Piper went 2-19 in Wallace’s first season before posting a 17-6 record the following year and advancing to the 2013 4A state tournament. Wallace guided the team to a 15-7 mark in his third season before returning to his alma mater for one season.

He’s had a variety of experiences at the high school, college, and professional level in addition to coaching both boys and women’s basketball.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve been a lot of different places so I have seen a lot of different things whether that’s on the court offensively or defensively, but you talk to a lot of coaches and see how they do some things with their program,” Wallace said. “I guess well-rounded would be a good thing. I’ve worked on every level. NBA is probably my favorite level to watch and steal stuff from. I take a little something from everything that I’ve been a part of and from watching other people on what they do and take some stuff from them that benefits my philosophy.”

Wallace’s experiences have shape his overall philosophy on the game and the style of play he wants to implement at Heights.

“My overall philosophy of how I want to look is that I want to play fast, miss or fake,” Wallace said. “I want a free-flowing offense where they’re not looking at the bench for a set play all of the time, we’re just taking it out of the net or taking it off of a miss and putting it down and running a flow offense where there’s a lot of ball screens, dribble penetration, a lot of ball and player movement would be my goal offensively. And then we’ll run sets for specific guys’ strengths. If we haven’t gotten a bucket in the paint for a while and we need a bucket we’ll have some set plays to get a bucket in the paint. If we’ve got some shooters, which I think we do, we’ll run some specific sets to try to get them some shots.

“Defensively primarily we’ll be man-to-man, but I like to mix it up and throw different things at people. We’ll trap on first pass or we might throw a 1-3-1 in, we’ll probably press. I’ll have a better feel for some of that stuff when I actually get the guys in the gym.”

STEVE WALLACE COACHING BIO

Season Team Position Record
2015-16 Shawnee Heights High School Boys Head Coach
2014-15 University of Kansas Women's Assistant Coach
2013-14 KC Piper High School Boys Head Coach 15-7
2012-13 KC Piper High School Boys Head Coach 17-6
2011-12 KC Piper High School Boys Head Coach 2-19
2010-11 Tennessee Tech University Women's Assistant Coach
2009-10 University of Rhode Island Women's Director of Operations
2008-09 University of Kansas Women's Graduate Assistant
2007-08 University of Kansas Women's Graduate Assistant

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Owner of TopekaHoops who has over 10 years of experience as a sports journalist covering high school, college, and professional basketball and other sports. E-mail me at: topekahoops@gmail.com

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