George Pitts
George Pitts
Title: Head Coach / Assistant Athletic Director
Phone: 423-652-4781
Email: gspitts@king.edu
Year: Eighth Year
College: Tennessee ('70)

When Northeast Tennessee basketball at the high school or collegiate level ever is discussed, George Pitts’ name is surely to among to topics of conversation with the impact he has left on the sport and the region. The eighth-year head coach of the Tornado has left behind a storied history that is talked of to this day and continues to impact the lives of young men today.

The Tornado nearly posted 20 wins in 2012-13, but came just short at 19-8, but finished third in the Conference Carolinas standings with a 14-6 mark, only one game out of first place. King posted a 3-0 record against 2012-13 NCAA Southeast Regional finalists, Barton College and USC-Aiken. Three players were named All-Conference Carolinas with Eddie Piccinini and Logan Lyle earning second team honors and Jason Seymore earning third team recognition. Piccinini was also named Confenence Carolinas Winter Scholar Athlete of the Year and King University's Male Athlete of the Year.

After achieving full membership into the NCAA, the successes continued to pour in after his team posted its fifth 20-plus win season in his six years and earned the 2011-12 Conference Carolinas regular season championship. Their title, impressive 23-8 overall record and top-25 ranking achieved earlier in the season helped the Tornado earn an at-large bid to the 2011-12 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament, the first NCAA postseason appearance in King Athletic history.

On Jan. 31 the Tornado were placed inside the top-25 in the NABC/NCAA Division II national poll for the first time in school history. As the season progressed, Brian Hewitt marked up the King record books by becoming the school’s leader in career steals and on Feb. 18 entered the 1,000-point club after an 18-point night against Pfeiffer. As most George Pitts teams do, the Tornado made a name for itself by shooting the long ball exceptionally well and finished the season No. 1 in the country in three-point field goals per game, averaging 11.0 per contest. Part of that equation for success included two all-conference, one All-Region selection, and conference Freshman of the Year Logan Lyle. At season’s end, Pitts was named the 2011-12 Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year after making such an impact on the regional and national scene in just the school’s first year as a Division II member.

In 2010-11, Pitts and the Tornado witnessed a change at the top of the King all-time scoring leader board when Mark Dockery etched his name as the College’s recorded his 1,804th career point against Victory (Tenn.) on March 10, 2011 to take the top spot. Pitts coached three NCCAA All-Mideast Region players, saw Dockery named to the NCCAA All-American team that year and finished third in the NCCAA National Tournament.

Pitts took the reins of the Tornado men’s basketball program in 2006 after a highly successful run of leading championship-caliber teams at Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.). Before joining King, he spent nearly 30 years as a coach and administrator in the Tennessee school system.

In his first four seasons he posted 20-win seasons, combining for an overall record of 97-33. In three years as a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference, he accumulated a 43-11 record (.796), finishing in the top-2 twice. His best season was in 2007-08 when the Tornado finished 26-8 with a 16-2 AAC mark to finish first in the conference. All three years that King was a part of the AAC, Pitts led the team to a conference tournament championship (2006-09) and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament.

Though King Athletics was making a leap from NAIA to NCAA Division II status, Pitts and the Tornado maintained their success by a fourth straight 20-plus win season, finishing 24-6 overall in 2009-10. In each of the two seasons the Tornado were transitioning to NCAA status they advanced to the NCCAA Division I National Tournament.

Pitts spent five years at Brentwood Academy and led the Eagles to four state titles. He helped BA become the only boys’ basketball team to win four consecutive state championships in Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association (TSSAA) history. Pitts led the Eagles to state titles in straight seasons between 2003 and 2006. From 2005-2007, Pitts went a combined 73-16 highlighted by a 2005 season where he led the Eagles to a 34-2 (.944) overall and 13-0 league record en route to a state title. That year, Brentwood was ranked 24th in the nation and second in the state of Tennessee.

For as successful as he was at Brentwood Academy, Pitts’ work at nearby Science Hill High School (Johnson City, Tenn.) may what he is most revered for. He began coaching the Hilltoppers in 1984 and stayed with the school until he began at Brentwood. Pitts led Science Hill to three AAA State Championships (1990, 1994, 1995), 15 state tournament appearances and one runner-up finish (1991).  He also won two Arby’s Classic titles and finished runner-up twice. While at Science Hill, Pitts coached current King assistant coach, Damon Johnson.

Pitts began his coaching career at his alma mater, Young High School (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 1970 as an assistant coach of the boys’ program. Three years later, he was named head coach and led the team to its first and only state tournament appearance in 1976 before the school disbanded. He then transferred to South Young High and led the team to a State Tournament runner-up finish in 1980 before spending three years at Knoxville Bearden High School (1981-83).

In his 30 years of high school coaching experience, Pitts has led teams to a total of 820 wins and only 211 losses. His teams won 15 district championships, 12 regional and sub-state championships, and seven state championships.

Pitts is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, class of 1970. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and also holds a master’s of education degree from Tennessee Tech. Pitts played collegiately for two years at East Tennessee State University from 1965-66.  He is married to his wife Valerie Renee Ledford and has five children.

 


Season


W-L

Conference Record


Conference Finish

2006-07

23-11@

13-5

t-4th!

2007-08

26-8@

16-2

1st!

2008-09

24-8@

14-4

2nd!

2009-10

24-6#

N/A^

N/A^

2010-11

18-15#

N/A^

N/A^

2011-12

23-8*

14-2

1st

2012-13 19-8 14-6 3rd

Total

157-64
(.710)

71-19
(.789)

 
 

! - indicates Appalachian Athletic Conference Member
@ - indicates NAIA Division II National Tournament qualifier
# - indicates NCCAA Division I National Tournament qualifier
^ - indicates transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II
* - indicates NCAA Division II National Tournament qualifier