By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Beckley basketball has a saying, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”
Those words haven’t been truer than they are in the case of former Woodrow basketball star Jason Slay.
Slay, who has spent the last season at Hargrave Military Academy as an assistant basketball coach, has been named the director of basketball operations of the Georgia Southern University Eagles, a Division I college in Statesboro, Ga.
“It feels great,” Slay said on his new position. “My goal is to be a Division I head coach someday, and this is getting me closer to that goal. I’m going to be around some great coaches, so I’m trying to take advantage of that.”
Slay joins the coaching staff of former Virginia Tech assistant Mark Byington, who was hired in March as the new coach for Georgia Southern.
Director of basketball operations is a relatively new position in college hoops — one Slay is ready to sink his teeth into.
“It’s been in college basketball for about 10 years or so,” Slay said. “I’m an assistant coach. I go to the meetings, I’m helping with recruiting, but I’m not allowed to be on the court when they work out. I’m not allowed to coach during practices. I control all travel, all the paperwork, so it’s something different for me from what I did in the past.”
Slay was a standout for Woodrow during the early 2000s, graduating in 2003 and going on to spend four years as a starter at West Virginia State. After graduating, Slay remained on coach Bryan Poore’s staff for four seasons.
“That’s the great thing about being at State. When I graduated, coach gave me a great opportunity,” Slay said. “I was involved in everything — in recruiting and scouting reports. I got to learn how college basketball works in every way from the Xs and Os to how to carry yourself. It helped me out tremendously.”
Slay said he interviewed for three different jobs during the Final Four and was offered the job with Southern. The next day he was in Statesboro starting his job.
“I’m not allowed to be out recruiting, but I’m working the phones,” he said. “We need five players, so I’m trying to stay involved as much as possible. We’re going to try to change the culture a little so I’m excited about that. Right now I’m in the office and working, organizing camps, meeting with our guys and handling academics.”
Slay said he spoke with brother Tamar, currently playing for Sutor Montegranaro in Italy, before taking the job.
“He’s always my first call,” Slay said.
Slay hopes to reach out to his former high school coach, Register-Herald Boys Coach of the Year, Ron Kidd soon.
“I haven’t spoke to coach yet, but I’ll reach out to him in a few days,” Slay said. “I’m going to reach out to everyone. I’m an Eagle again.”
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.