Wheatmore’s new basketball coach familiar with rivalries

Craig Shoemaker is Wheatmore’s new boys’ basketball coach. (Courtesy photo)

TRINITY – The more Craig Shoemaker learned about Wheatmore’s boys’ basketball program, the more he became interested in becoming the next coach.

So he accepted the job and he’ll try another rebuilding project.

“I was looking for a job,” Shoemaker said. “I didn’t know too much about Wheatmore. Seemed like they want someone to build it. I was very impressed by what I heard and saw.”

Shoemaker had huge success during several seasons in 13 years at Ragsdale and more recently coached at Leadership Academy in Kernersville.

Last season, the Warriors were 5-18 with a 0-12 regular-season mark in the Piedmont Athletic Conference. Jonathan Evans was the coach until mid-December, when Jason Dennis took over on an interim basis.

“I like going to a place that needs a turnaround,” Shoemaker said.

Wheatmore had four consecutive winning seasons through 2019-20, but hasn’t posted an above-.500 mark since then.

Athletics director Rick Halo said the Warriors are seeking stability for the program after what seems like several years of a coaching carousel.

“His knowledge of the game stood out,” Halo said of Shoemaker. “We were looking for a seasoned coach who could step in and have good success. … A fresh start for me and a fresh start for our players.”

Shoemaker coached basketball for four seasons at Leadership Academy, never winning more than nine games. He wasn’t on the bench during this past season.

At Ragsdale, Shoemaker’s teams posted 20-, 23- and 26-win seasons. By the end, he had back-to-back 9-16 teams and was done there after the 2017-18 seasons. Overall, the Tigers were 188-151 under Shoemaker.

“We had a lot of good guys roll through there and we capitalized on it,” he said. “We tailed off a little bit.”

During his time at Ragsdale, his team was in the same conference as Trinity, which is Wheatmore’s neighboring rival. Shoemaker recalled several clashes with Trinity, which continues to be coached by Tim Kelly.

“We were packing out gyms when we played,” Shoemaker said. “He did tell me once I got the job (at Wheatmore) he was not going to give me any advice for a year.”

Though Shoemaker didn’t coach basketball this school year, he has guided the Leadership Academy boys’ soccer team for a few seasons. That squad went 21-1-1 in 2021.

His two youngest sons are seniors at Leadership Academy.

Shoemaker’s first head coaching job in basketball came at St. David’s School in Raleigh.

Shoemaker, who lives in High Point, will be involved in Wheatmore’s intervention program during school days.

By Bob Sutton