Best Coach to Return to High School - 2002
Marvin Neals, Cardinal Ritter Prep
Marvin Neals has been through this before. In the '70s, several of the basketball teams he coached at Soldan High School won twenty or more games. He coached David Thirdkill, who played at Bradley University and in the NBA. Neals quit coaching more than ten years ago, ending up with 328 victories. He's a retired principal who last year came back to coach varsity basketball at Cardinal Ritter Prep. The Lions were the top-ranked small school in the area and finished the year with a 25-3 record. Ritter lost to Lutheran North in the district finals, 54-44. This season, Ritter should return with a good team -- point guard Ken Burke averaged just under twenty points a game. In the second-to-last game of last season, Ritter defeated John Burroughs 72-70, with Burke sinking 36 points. Ritter, an archdiocesan high school, is moving next year to a new Midtown campus featuring a new building, football field and gymnasium. Having an experienced, accomplished coach to head its basketball program can only be a plus. The combination of Ritter's talent pool, its emphasis on academics and Neals' coaching should have college recruiters lined up out the door.