It was time for a change.
Those were the words from former LaPoynor boys basketball coach Dean Nuckolls after announcing he is leaving the Flyers after 15 years at the school.
“15 years is a long time and I have loved my time here at LaPoynor,” Nuckolls said. “It has been very good to myself and my family. We felt like we were due for a change. The last couple of years there were some things that made us a little disgruntled. It is time for a change is what we felt. My wife and boys both support me so it is time for the change.”
Nuckolls will become the Bullard Panthers head boys basketball coach in the fall after resigning on Wednesday from LaPoynor. He will finish out the school year with the Flyers.
Nuckolls made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter.
“I am excited to announce that I have accepted the Head Boys Basketball job at Bullard HS,” Nuckolls said. “I do want to thank LaPoynor ISD for the past 15 years. I will be rooting for you still, just from down the road.”
This is the first time Nuckolls has made a coaching change. During his time at LaPoynor, he won 383 games and advanced to the playoffs every year.
He had teams make the regional tournament five times, lost in the first round just twice and advanced to the state tournament in 2020. He would have coached in the state championship game, but it was called off due to the global pandemic.
“I don’t know that I have left any kind of legacy necessarily,” Nuckolls said. “I think I have continued the strong basketball tradition that LaPoynor has had before I got here. I felt like I brought and continued school pride. I am prideful of what I have done and what the kids have done. I know every time our kids stepped on the floor at LaPoynor that they played with a lot of pride.”
His son Garrett averaged 16.9 points, 5.2 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game with 82 3-pointers this season to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors on the All-Henderson County team.
He said they made sure that Garrett knew what was going on and would not be shocked as he heads into his junior year with a new program.
“No, we talked about this and we are very open with our kids,” Nuckolls said. “We discuss things and we have talked about it the last few years about going to a bigger school. When he was in junior high, his goal was to play college basketball so we felt like we needed to be at a bigger school to help his recruitment. That is not why we left at all in the process.
“We have him on a pretty good team that he plays on during the summer, and we feel pretty confident that he will get exposure through that.”
He said for the returning players at LaPoynor, when the announcement was made, the team was not thrilled with the news.
“They were not happy,” Nuckolls said. “They were not mad or anything but they were understanding. The kids here are great and understanding. I am not leaving them for a rival or leaving them for a worse situation. I am doing what is best for me and my family.”
When asked what drew him to Bullard other than going up to Class 4A, Nuckolls was very complimentary of the school and his new Athletic Director Scott Callaway.
“I have been here for 15 years but I was born and raised in Athens,” Nuckolls said. “I have always heard good things about Bullard ISD academically and I hear how good of a school Bullard is. When I went and interviewed, it felt very family friendly and what I look for in a school.
“I have only spoke with him (Callaway) a few times and he seems very supportive. I know the basketball program has struggled a little bit in the years back. They want to get back to winning ways and be on top. That is my expectation as well and to be in the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs.”
He said when he looks back on his 15-years at LaPoynor, he is pleased with the tradition he continued during his time as the head coach.
“I am proud of what we have done at LaPoynor. I am looking forward to the new challenges in bumping up classifications,” Nuckolls said. “I have not been to a new school in 15 years and have not been a head coach anywhere else but LaPoynor. I am looking forward to seeing if my system works somewhere other that LaPoynor. I hope LaPoynor does well, and I still root for them.”
Nuckolls and his wife, Jenifer have another son Gage, who is in the seventh grade.