Mullins eagerly awaits his first season as Ripley Viking head boys basketball coach

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

When first cousin Luke Parsons stepped away from the Ripley Viking boys basketball program as head coach, Derek Mullins was ready to jump in.

Mullins cherishes the time he spent with his relative as an assistant.

And now, he’s enjoying the thrill of being a head coach for the first time at the varsity level.

Getting the chance to do it for his alma mater is icing on the cake.

Former Ripley High Athlete of the Year (2011) Derek Mullins is getting set for his first season as his alma mater's head boys basketball coach. He's been a varsity assistant and head junior varsity coach the past three years.

“I’ve enjoyed running practices,” said Mullins, a former Viking basketball and baseball standout and the school’s 2011 Male Athlete of the Year.

Mullins said from time to time he has to pinch himself in realizing what is happening as he takes over the program he played for 11 years ago.

One of his former teammates was Chase Fischer, who earned the Evans Award as West Virginia’s top boys basketball player. Fischer moved on to play college basketball at both Wake Forest and Brigham Young.

Mullins played baseball at West Virginia State University before returning to his hometown.

He feels his first Viking team will feature depth.

Several players who either started or saw extensive playing time last season return.

Junior Isaiah Casto is back. “He’s the point guard who gets everybody in the right spot.”

Luke Johnson, who now stands 6-11, is set to start for a third straight season.

“He just keeps growing and getting better and better,” said Mullins, who will be assisted by Steve Hunt and Kevin McClung. 

“His defense has come a long way. His size allows him to score. He can crash the boards. I love his attitude. He has just come a long way since he was a freshman.”

Cade Goode, a sophomore, had an exceptional freshman season for the Vikings.

“He’s a good shooter and good slasher.”

Joey Ramsey, a phenomenal football player, is ready for a big junior season after getting loads of playing time on the court as a 10th grader.

“He’s just a really good athlete who runs the floor really well.”

A pair of seniors will contribute in Carson Goff and Eli Miller.

Mullins loves how hard the two play on the defensive end.

Junior Alec Vance is back for Mullins’ first team. “He has a great IQ out on the floor.”

Sophomores Dylan Casto, Parker Boyd and Brady Anderson will be key contributors.

Mullins calls Casto a “scoring machine.” Boyd, the head coach said, can be “special.”

Anderson, too, can be a big scorer inside for the Vikings. “He looks (and is) like a linebacker. He can jump and moves really well.”

Mullins is happy to have several bodies who can make contributions when they are called upon.

“We want to get out and go on offense and get right up on our opponent defensively,” he said.

Ripley’s roster also features several others who can fit into the plans as the season moves along. They are junior Carson Hedrick, junior Zander Workman, sophomore Virgil Myers, sophomore Connor Casto, sophomore Garrett Rhodes and sophomore Ross Van Meter.

“We have a very competitive schedule,” Mullins said.

It is a wide range of opponents Mullins feels can have his team primed for the ultimate goal — the state tournament.

“We want to make it to Charleston.”