Henrico - Varina boys basketball

Varina's head coach Andrew Lacey gives a direction to players against Henrico during the first half of a boys basketball game at Varina High School on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.

Varina's Andrew Lacey was named the men's basketball coach at Richard Bland on Monday. Lacey coached at Varina for six seasons and won the Class 5 state championship in 2018.

In 2013, he took the reins of a faltering Varina team. The Blue Devils went 6-16 his first year but won conference championships in the next two seasons. He transformed Varina into one of the area's top squads, reaching the state tournament three years in a row. Lacey went 109-46 during his six seasons, including a record of 51-4 the past two years.

In Lacey's last season, Varina won the Class 5, Region B title and reached the state semifinals. It was the buy-in from the players and their families that made them successful, the coach said.

"I got tremendous support from the administration and the parents and the players trusting the process," Lacey said. "They really made it possible."

Tyrese Jenkins, a 6-foot-7 wing, became one of the 804's elite players, earning first-team All-Metro status each of the past two seasons. He'll graduate this spring, but scheduled to return are sophomores A.J. Williams and Jason Nelson, who joined the varsity as freshmen and were key components to Varina's 2018 state title run.

Lacey is involved in AAU, too, coaching Team Richmond-Garner Road, whose alumni include Collegiate senior Robbie Beran (Northwestern). Lacey will continue coaching AAU and will lead a 17U team this summer.

Coaching college basketball is something he's done for awhile, and Richard Bland gives him the chance to do it while staying at home. Lacey played at Bridgewater, and appreciates the small-college atmosphere. In some ways, he said, it's not that different than Varina. The job still consists of preparing basketball players for the next level, the same as it did in high school.

Richard Bland restarted its basketball program in 2013 and won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national title in its second season. Chuck Moore, the coach who rebuilt the team, amassed 126 wins and 42 losses during five seasons but resigned following the 2018 season.

He was replaced by Preston Beverly as the team ascended to Division I. Facing a tougher schedule, the Statesmen went 6-21 last year and Beverly lasted just one season.

Lacey sees potential in the program. He rebuilt Varina's team, and he thinks he can do it at Bland, too. He'll scour the state for its best junior-college prospects, as in-state recruiting will be a focus of the program.

"There's the opportunity to build something special again," Lacey said.

Sports reporter

Eric Kolenich writes sports stories for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, focusing on local athletes and teams. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a BA in English and joined the paper in 2009. (804) 649-6109

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