Former Ravenswood Red Devil enjoying first season as college basketball head coach

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

Christmas just ended and Brett Rector enjoyed the holidays with family and friends.

In fact, his family was extended this year.

As in his basketball family.

The former Ravenswood Red Devil two-sport First Team All-State athlete is in his first season guiding the basketball program at Salem University.

You could say Rector is green with envy as he engineers the green and white-clad program, steeped in tradition.

Rector received an early Christmas gift last summer when he was named the school’s new head coach.  

“It is everything I dreamed it could be,” said Rector while out doing some grocery shopping. “I love being the head coach. I love getting to do things my way. This is what I wanted to do my whole life.”

Rector starred at Ravenswood in three sports and earned All-State in basketball and football. He was also an excellent baseball player for the red and black.

After graduating in 2003, he spent a season in the basketball program at West Virginia Tech before playing his final three years at Davis & Elkins.

Rector’s first team at Salem is 8-4. Three of the four losses have come against solid programs in Kentucky Wesleyan, Virginia Union and Fairmont State. The other was against Lake Erie (Ohio).

“If you had told me in July that we would win eight of our first 12 games, I’d probably would have said, ‘You’re crazy,'” Rector stated. “But we got things going. Then you get out there in a game and your thought is to go win this game. Then when you don’t, you’re frustrated. But things are going great.”

Former Ravenswood All-Stater Brett Rector is off to an 8-4 start as the head men's basketball coach at Salem University. Rector was a Class AA First Team All-Stater in basketball and football while at Ravenswood HIgh, where he graduated in 2003.

While happy to get the opportunity of a lifetime back in July, Rector knew he had an uphill mountain to climb.

“My first concern was, ‘Will I have enough players,’” he said. “That was the first issue. Then I got some guys who returned who are pretty good. I signed a bunch of guys.”

His first recruiting class included T.J. Howard, a transfer from the University of South Carolina-Aiken, and Darius Bell from Towson State.

“They have been huge,” Rector said.

Rector coached several places before taking over at Salem. 

His stops at the collegiate level include West Virginia Tech, University of Pikeville, Eastern Kentucky and the University of Charleston. 

On the high school level, he was the head boys basketball coach at Parkersburg South for one season, leading the Patriots to a state tournament berth. Rector also spent time at his alma mater Ravenswood for a year.

He was back for a second go-round at UC when the Salem job came open. He’s taken plenty from his years with Golden Eagle head coach Dwaine Osborne.

“I think I’m wired a lot like Dwaine,” he said in coaching philosophy. “We’re trying to be efficient and not play at break-neck speed. We’re trying to get the best shot. We are really shooting the ball well.”

Perhaps his team is a chip off the old block.

Rector was a prolific scorer in both high school and college.

“Good shooting can cure a lot of issues,” he said. “We have guys that can really shoot.”

In a game earlier this season at Rector’s alma mater Davis & Elkins, the Tigers buried 15 from behind the 3-point line.

While at D&E, Rector led NCAA Division II in three-pointers as a junior and was second in the country as a senior.

Salem is an independent, competing out of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional. Several opponents come from the Mountain East Conference (which features several West Virginia schools), the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which features teams from Virginia, the Carolinas and Maryland.

“We try to play as many regional games as we can,” he said. “You get those regional points. Our goal is to get Salem back to the national tournament. When Mike Carey (now WVU’s highly-successful women’s coach) was here, they were in the nationals every year. Scheduling is a little tricky when you are an independent.”

Rector is pleased with many aspects so far, including the team’s home crowds.

“There’s not much going on at Salem. I think that is something that’s helped us,” he said. “Other sports are coming out and supporting us. That gives us a chance. When you produce a good product and get wins, people come out.”

And as time marches on, Brett Rector can visualize things growing and his team playing before overflow crowds.

It’s one more part of his dream come true as a college head coach.