The coach who led Nathan Hale to state and national championships last year said the shooting helped clarify his decision about moving to his alma mater.
Reflecting on the spring of 2017 is difficult yet unavoidable for Brandon Roy as he was involved in an incident that made national headlines.
The phrase “but then I got shot” either prefaces or concludes many of the reasons why he sat tilted to his left side on Garfield’s basketball court Wednesday evening. The famed Bulldog transitioned from an All-Star NBA career to coaching high-school basketball where he led Nathan Hale to the Class 3A state championship in March.
“Then I got shot,” said Roy, referring to the April 29 incident at a family gathering in Compton, Calif. The investigation is ongoing and Roy declined to offer details beyond the shooting that left bullet wounds in his lower right leg and lower butt cheeks on the right and left side.
“It was crazy to look down at my leg and my sweats had holes in them,” said Roy in his first public comments about the shooting. “I just couldn’t believe I was shot. It’s scary. I thought about my kids the whole time.”
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The shooting is part of what Roy calls “a busy spring” where his former University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was fired, setting a domino effect of changes in the Seattle basketball landscape. Michael Porter Sr., Romar’s top assistant, left to accept a position at Missouri. His eldest sons, Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter, followed after starring on Hale’s 29-0 team.
On April 10, it came out Garfield coach Ed Haskins had accepted an assistant men’s basketball coaching position at Washington State. But Roy, a first-time head coach, said he still planned to remain at Nathan Hale.
“As much as I love Garfield, I thought it was cool to start something at Nathan Hale and grow,” Roy said. “There was so much turnover, then I got shot and after that, I was visiting with my (maternal) grandmother and she said if Garfield is where you think you want to be, you’ve got to go for it.
“It meant a lot because she just wanted to see me after I got shot because she can’t get around as much and she reminded me of how important I was to this community, not that I wasn’t at Nathan Hale. … But it’s weird, because when I got shot, it took the focus off the coaching thing and it added a different emotion to (everything).”
As Roy healed from the wounds, he contemplated the job move with family. On May 25, Garfield announced his hiring via a Twitter account. Anticipated questions regarding the shooting is why there wasn’t a news conference.
Roy said Hale athletic director Darby Haskins, who was unavailable for comment, was supportive. Former Garfield assistant coach Walter Washington replaced Roy at Hale.
Wednesday marked the final day of tryouts at Garfield. There were about 90 kids at the three-day session. Roy plans to have an unofficial tryout next week to accommodate those on the football team who couldn’t attend due to the Bulldogs making their first state playoff run since 1979.
The final Bulldogs roster should feature Ed Chang, a 6-foot-7 UW commit who relocated from Nebraska for his senior year. Four-star forward J’Raan Brooks and top guard Ed Turner are returnees while sophomore MarJon Beauchamp transferred from Hale.
“As a coach, I’m a lot more comfortable this year,” said Roy, whose entire staff accompanied him to Garfield. “I was nervous last year. When you have Michael Porter and Jontay, two really good players, you don’t want to disappoint them. And I’ve never even been around a guy like Michael, who’s the No. 1 or 2 (recruit) in the nation. I played in the NBA and things, but I wanted to be sure I gave them my best. Now, I’m a lot more confident.”
At Hale, Roy had a national schedule that had the Raiders playing on ESPN, in elite tournaments and ranked as the top team in the nation. Garfield won’t play such a glitzy schedule.
The Bulldogs, who lost to Hale in the state-title game, open their season against Cleveland on Dec. 1.
“When I got shot, there was so much that fell through the cracks,” Roy said. “So much was going on. I wasn’t out of it. I just wanted to be around my kids and didn’t want to talk about it, but (the shooting) was always (mentioned). Our schedule isn’t the same mostly because of that. Every opponent is still a big one and the pressure is still there. But that’s why I love coming to coach. That energy, I can’t wait.”