Sources: Clarkson in line to coach Plano East
March 19, 2012VYPE MAGAZINE - DFW
By David McNabb
The search for a new Plano East boys’ basketball coach could result in a a reunion with former East standout Jeff Clarkson returning to his alma mater. Clarkson led Garland Naaman Forest to its first UIL state tournament berth this season and is considered the leading candidate to replace former East coach Doug Bleadorn, according to several people familiar with the search.
Clarkson helped lead Plano East to the 1994 5A state final as a senior along former Baylor player John Perkins and Texas A&M’s John Reeves. Clarkson, who played two years at Tarleton State, led East with 23 points in the Panthers’ state semifinal victory in ‘94.
In Clarkson’s seventh year as head coach at Naaman Forest, the Rangers earned their first state tourney berth in 2012 after winning their first district title in 2009. Naaman was 29-8 this past season. The Rangers lose 6-10 Texas signee Prince Ibeh but will return a strong, five-man senior class.
Expectations are high at East with seven players returning who received some type of All-District 8-5A honors including junior standouts Sawyer Kipp and Marcus Mathieu and sophomores Bola Alade and Zach Smith. With the UIL realignment for the next two seasons, East will compete in District 10-5A along with Plano, Plano West, Allen, McKinney and McKinney Boyd.
Bleadorn was East's fulltime head coach for seven years, as well as, interim head coach and assistant coach for two seasons while Coach Adair fought cancer. Clarkson played for the 59-year Adair, who died in 2006 and was East’s popular and highly respected basketball coach for 16 years.
Bleadorn averaged more than 20 wins per season in those nine years. He was named a finalist for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 2003-04 Coach of the Year. He was also the Co-Coach of the Year in 9-5A for 2003-04, for 8-5A in 2004-05 and was selected as the Coach of the Year for 9-5A in 2007-08.
But East has not made the playoffs in the last three seasons including a 14-18, 4-10 record last season. Bleadorn told the Plano Star-Courier his departure at East was "an administrative decision to go in a different direction."