After co-leading the Manhattan High boys’ basketball team for half of last season following the resignation of Tim Brooks, Benji George was named head coach of the Indians Monday afternoon.
A statement announcing the hiring was posted to the USD 383 website on Monday. Athletic director Mike Marsh confirmed the move, saying George will help keep the program on track with a familiar face.
“We’re thrilled to have Coach George on as our next boys’ basketball coach,” Marsh said. “He brings a winning attitude and he’s dedicated to our kids in the classroom. And he’s good for the Manhattan basketball program.
“We felt it was time for Benji to take over the program and continue us in a positive direction.”
George, who has taught biology at the MHS East campus since 2008, will remain in his same teaching position.
“He wants to continue teaching at East campus for the time being, and Mr. Hoyt is very supportive of that,” Marsh said.
George and co-interim coach Shane Sieben guided the Indians to a 5-5 record in the final 10 games of the season after a 7-4 start, all while dealing with the two-week investigation of Brooks that partially divided the team.
Once Brooks was told he could either resign or be let go, several seniors opted to leave the team, leaving an already-thin bench even thinner, though a handful of underclassmen got the opportunity to play varsity and gain experience.
Looking forward to George’s debut season this winter, the team will return four of its five starters and loses only senior Alex Stitt.
George has been involved with the Manhattan High program under Brooks since 2008, when he served as an assistant coach for the freshman team before taking over as JV coach in 2011. He remained in that role even after being named co-interim coach in February.
In a statement released by the district, George thanked Marsh and MHS principal Greg Hoyt.
“I am excited about the opportunity to be the head boys’ basketball coach at Manhattan High and look forward to building upon the success of recent years,” George said in a statement. “I am also thankful for the confidence shown in myself by Mr. Marsh and Mr. Hoyt and am excited about working with the players we have coming back next year.”
Also in the release, Hoyt expressed his excitement toward the future of MHS basketball under George.
“I am thrilled that Coach George has agreed to accept the head boys’ basketball position at Manhattan High School,” Hoyt said. “Benji has extensive knowledge of the game, knows our athletes very well, has articulated a vision for the future of Manhattan High boys’ basketball, and is well known as an excellent classroom instructor.”
Marsh said George stood out in the interview phase of the hiring process.
“I will tell you that we interviewed three applicants, and out of those three that we chose to interview, Coach George did an excellent job,” he said. “I think our kids will be very pleased with our selection.”