Good Luck

May 28th, 2023

adigun and oneil hugoton basketballELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


High school basketball may officially be finished, but this most recent season is still garnering quite a bit of postseason conversation.

Sports In Kansas recently honored the state’s coaches of the year, and both of Hugoton’s coaches, Emmanuel Adigun and Trey O’Neil, received 4A Coach of the Year honors. 

“Hugoton coach Trey O’Neil led Hugoton to its first-ever boys’ basketball State title with a 23-2 record. Hugoton opened 1-2 at the Hays City Shoot-Out against much bigger schools and won 22 straight. At state, Hugoton won by 17, 20 and beat McPherson, 67-58, in the state title game. Hugoton was ranked ninth in the preseason,” the Sports In Kansas release noted. “O’Neil started his coaching career as a two-year assistant under Alex Hutchins, a Scott City graduate. They helped Hays High boys enjoy the most wins in a three-year stretch in school history. HHS was a 2020 COVID Forever Four team and lost in the state quarterfinals in ’21. Last season, O’Neil took over a relatively inexperienced team and brought the Eagles back to the State tournament. This year, Hugoton was much more veteran-laden with Ryle Riddlesperger, Carson Bennett, Dasean Lewis and Emmett Gaskill. Riddlesperger set Hugoton single season and career 3-point records. He averaged 18.6 points per game, Bennett 16.1. Lewis recorded 35 steals and 12 taken charges; he has 26 charges in the last two years. Gaskill had 5.8 rebounds, 31 steals and shut down main scorers in the 4A State tournament. O’Neil, 26, is one of the youngest coaches to win a State title.”

Adigun said he was humbled to receive his honor and as he tells it, his coaching career has been an interesting one. 

“I just concluded my 17th year of coaching, with seven of those years as an assistant coach at Pratt High School, and the last 10 years have been as a head coach at Pratt High School and currently at Hugoton High School,” Adigun said. “My family and I were transitioning to moving out of Pratt and looking for an opportunity that would benefit my family, particularly my daughter, and give me a chance to move up as far as coaching. Hugoton had gone undefeated and won the State championship the year prior to my getting there, and I had a good relationship with that coach, who was actually preparing to step down and pursue some other opportunities. He'd heard I was looking for somewhere to go, and he was able to get me to come and check things out. There was already a massive amount of talent from the girls in my daughter's class. The previous coach and I had actually coached against each other a few times, so he knew my style and thought I would be a good choice to replace him and work with the talent that was already there.”

Adigun heard about the honor while on a recent vacation with his family, and said he has enjoyed his time working with the Hugoton program.

“I was on vacation with my family when I got a call from Sports In Kansas, and they informed me I'd been selected as the 4A Coach of the Year. At first, I was surprised since we didn't win State this year, and I knew there were several coaches who were just as worthy of this as I was. For them to select me, I was pretty taken aback because I didn't think I was even up for something like this,” Adigun said. “My first thought was about just how much talent I've been blessed to work with since I've come to Hugoton, and it's been great sharing some of that success with my daughter. And one of the underrated parts of our program is how good the assistant coaching staff is, we've had a plethora of talent come through in that regard. It's been a great group of coaches and talented players to work with, and I can't praise them enough. The relationships I've built have been the primary thing, and the Hugoton community is extremely supportive of all the athletic programs at the school, and they embraced me with open arms when I came. One of my favorite experiences is from my first year – they'd graduated a handful of seniors but also had a few big names coming back, one of whom unfortunately tore her ACL in our very first game, which forced me to shift gears somewhat. My team that first year was a combination of girls who had a lot of experience and girls who hadn't had as much playing time before, and that year, we ended up playing for 3rd place at State when we weren't expected to go that far. That's one of my favorite memories from my time here at Hugoton.”

Adigun said this past season was great to see unfold, and there are already plans being made for the next season. 

“The experience my younger athletes have gotten with all these different runs, they truly couldn't have it any better. My current sophomores and juniors, all they've seen with our program is run after run to the State tournament and going so far in the postseason,” Adigun said. “I'm looking forward to seeing how much they've grown under the tutelage of the older athletes who they've worked with, and I can't wait to see them step into those leadership roles and use that experience to carry that momentum. It's definitely not easy work, and there will be hiccups, so I'm looking forward to seeing them take their experience and apply it.  For next season, the main thing is just 'Who's up next?' and how we can use this offseason to make sure we get to the point where we're successful and ready to get on the court again. It'll be a new year, a new team and all of that, so we'll need to make sure we do what we can to be successful with the players and tools we have, because we can't rely only on what we've done in the past.”

Overall, Adigun said, he feels very honored for the Sports In Kansas recognition, also giving praise to others who help the program’s success.

“It's very humbling receiving an award like this and it's a great reminder of how hard work doesn't go unnoticed. It definitely won't make me complacent, and I certainly won't rest on those laurels – just the opposite, it actually makes me want to work harder and become a better coach and grow in my role,” Adigun said. “Every coach's goal is to get to a State championship, but it takes a lot of work and determination, it's not something that just happens overnight. Getting this award will just be motivation for me to continue getting better. I also want to add again how grateful I am to my staff, especially our managers, because they do so, so much for the team behind the scenes, and they don't get anywhere near the credit they deserve. In this line of work, it's typically the head coach that gets most of the praise and/or blame, but my staff knows they're a part of things too and they do a great job of taking some of that weight off of me and helps make things easier. I have an amazing staff who I'm able to trust, I can't say enough just how fortunate I am to have those people as part of the program.”