MULLENS, W.Va. — Former longtime Mullens boys basketball coach and administrator Don Nuckols died Thursday at home.
“He was a very important part (of my life) and of basketball in general,” said one of Nuckols’ former players and WVU star Herbie Brooks. “The coaching fraternity lost a great one today – a great one.”
Nuckols won five basketball titles at Mullens, bringing home championships in 1970, 1972, 1982, 1983, 1984. His teams also collected a runner-up finish in 1981. The coaching legend finished his career with a record of 283-101 from 1969 to 1984.
“My deepest sympathies to the Nuckols family. Don lived a wonderful life and contributed so much to building up the character of young men. He was a dear friend and a great competitor,” said West Virginia governor Jim Justice. “All West Virginians knew Don Nuckols and we will all miss him. Don was a real fighter, a real competitor, and tremendous coach. I’m sure the Good Lord has got Don suited up with his dream team and he is coaching them to victory after victory in Heaven.”
During his tenure, Mullens coached a multitude of the state’s best players, including Mike D’Antoni, Herbie Brooks, Greg White, Willie Stewart, Jerry Thomas, Bill Mizell, Jeff Mullins, Shawn Finney and Jerome Anderson.
“He was an offensive guy – but you still had better play defense,” Brooks said. “He always had a scorer on his team – that was his guy, that was just his system. And I happened to be the guy. But you had better play defense as well.”
Brooks, meanwhile, set the state tournament scoring record in 1983 with 50 points against Parkersburg Catholic.
“He told me how it was a great game that I played, but it was a team effort, it wasn’t a forced 50 points,” Brooks said of Nuckols. “I remember him telling me that I didn’t understand quite what I did and accomplished with that game.”
Mullens eventually consolidated in 1998 with Pineville to form the current Wyoming East High School. But overall, the Rebels won seven basketball state championships — five of them during Nuckols’ tenure.
“He was such a great man and a great coach,” Brooks added.