Michael Fredericks coached his last basketball game two years ago at Princeton High School. But’s he back in the game this year behind the scenes for the Tigers.

The former PHS head coach has been the advance scout for first-year head coach Jason Smith, scouting six games of Tigers opponents this year. They had always been close friends when Fredericks coached at PHS (3 years as head coach, 7 as an assistant) and Smith was at Bureau Valley, and their new partnership was easy to form.

“He reached out to see if I wanted to help out with the program in any capacity. I told him I’d be interested in scouting a little for him,” Fredericks said. “It’s been fun. My wife likes it because it gets me out the house. I like it because gets me a taste of hoops. Two of my favorite things when I was coaching were practice and scouting. This is right up there.”

Smith said the two of them never stopped staying in contact when Fredericks got out of coaching, and “that bond has got tighter ever since I came over here.”

“He’s like a brother to me. He’s had my back all season. He’s been awesome,” Smith added. “He’s actually made my job here a lot more comfortable. Obviously, I have my other coaches to go to, but he’s one guy that’s unbiased, so to speak, that I can go to and get knowledge from someone that knows the game of basketball as he does and he’s very smart at it.”

The first thing Fredericks does when he arrives at the gym is to look over the rosters checking for player’s positions and heights.

During games, he looks for what type of offenses and defenses the teams play, noting if the teams make switches on defense on made baskets or dead balls.

He’ll also chart teams’ inbounds plays and keeps track of every player’s free throw makes and attempts. He’ll note which players are right-handed and which are left-handed, and for tendencies certain players may have that the Tigers should be ready for.

“For example, if a team likes to outlet the ball to the right every time, we can use that,” Fredericks said. “I’ll look for possible matchups for us. Trying to predict if Princeton was to run a man-to-man defense, who would defend the opposing players.

“All in all, it’s kind of an overview of what to expect when the Tigers play them. I try to give coach Smith a comprehensive look at his opponent.”

Fredericks admits he can’t always pinpoint how a player will play against Princeton based on what he saw on a particular night, and joked that Smith will give him a hard time about it when it doesn’t.

“When I watched Ottawa play Rochelle, their top player is Myles Tucker. He made one three. Jason was quick to let me know (Tucker) was on fire from 3 when they played the Tigers,” Fredericks said with a laugh.

“I try my best, but at the end of the day, they’re high school players, and they can be hot or cold on any given night.”

Occasionally, Smith will bring Fredericks in for practices to offer some instruction or advice.

“I’ll show him something I want to go over and see what he thinks. He’ll say, ‘yeah,’ or if he has a certain play he likes against a certain team, he might come down and show ’em,” Smith said.

“We do run some of that stuff, too. I’m not one of those coaches that are selfish and think all of my ideas are great. I get as much from everybody that I can. And its not just coach Freds, but coach Bickett, coach Marquis, coach Johnson. They’re all good guys.”

With next week’s regional opponents well scouted, first Eureka and then Kewanee should the Tigers advance, Fredericks plans to be in the house to watch them play Monday night in Chillicothe.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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