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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Next stop for Heeb is collegiate ranks

Sunday, August 12, 2007

David Heeb
David Heeb is heading to the next level -- college basketball.

And he knows what you're going to say next.

"We'll find out how well I can recruit," Heeb said Thursday evening. "Insert your own joke here."

Heeb is the former boys basketball coach at Bell City and Scott County Central whose resume includes two Class 1 state championships, three final four appearances and five district titles in six years on the bench. He sat out the 2006-07 season after receiving a suspension from the Missouri State High School Activities Association after the board came to the conclusion Heeb exerted undue influence in attempting to recruit players from Bell City to Scott County Central.

He was not renewed to coach boys basketball in 2007-08 by the Scott County Central school board, which recently tabbed legendary former coach and 2006-07 interim coach Ronnie Cookson to lead the program.

Heeb, who was hired as athletic director and boys basketball coach at Scott County Central in the summer of 2005, is heading to the Robert Morris College campus in Springfield, Ill.

He will coach women's basketball at the college, which competes in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

Heeb spent some time on the bench with Scott County Central's girls basketball team last winter while serving the MSHSAA suspension. And he said he's consulted with Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach John Ishee since taking the Robert Morris post about two weeks ago.

"I don't think it's going to be too terribly different," Heeb said of coaching women's college basketball. "You've still got to put the ball in the hole more than they do."

Robert Morris has been successful doing that, coming off a fifth-place finish in the 2006-07 national tournament in Broken Arrow, Okla. The Eagles were second in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and third in 2002-03.

Heeb said there is some rebuilding involved due to graduation departures, and he was going to begin meeting potential players this weekend. He has been in contact with the returning players by phone.

"It's hard to turn down the chance to coach college basketball," said Heeb, who also looked at some high school opportunities in Illinois. "It's tough to get your foot in the door, so I'm grateful for the opportunity.

"I don't know if I'll outsmart anybody up there but I'll sure work hard. It's a great opportunity to be successful."

Heeb, who turns 29 Sunday, said he would not mind having success at Robert Morris resulting in him being exposed to more opportunities.

He had two state championships at Bell City by the time he was 26, leading the team to state titles in 2001-02 and 2003-04. He guided the program to a 120-37 record in five years, including a final four season in 2004-05 before leaving for his alma mater.

Bell City has been the state runner-up the last two years under Brian Brandtner, beating Scott County Central in the sectional rounds both years.

Heeb directed Scott County Central to a 16-14 record in 2005-06, capturing a district title with three sophomores and a freshman leading the team in scoring.

MSHSAA handed down its penalty in April 2005, based on a complaint from Bell City that Heeb attempted to influence players to switch schools. Heeb and Scott County Central superintendent Dr. Joby Holland met with the MSHSAA board in an appeal in June of that year in an attempt to get the penalties changed. MSHSAA upheld Heeb's suspension for the second semester of 2006-07 but in April of 2007 it lifted the remaining two years of probation for the district that prohibited Heeb from conducting open gyms.

Cookson, who coached Scott County Central to 12 state titles before stepping down in the early 1990s, coached the Braves to a 24-5 record last year and another district championship.

In May, the Scott County Central school board did not extend any of the coaching contracts, including Heeb's duties as AD, boys basketball coach and coach of the 1-year-old track program. The board then decided to seek new applicants for all the positions at its meeting earlier this summer, which led to the rehiring of Cookson as coach and AD.

"We parted amicably, I guess you could say," Heeb said. "I never did get an explanation from the board, but I did talk with Dr. Holland. You can't burn your bridges when you leave home or you don't have anywhere to go back to.

"I was just upset about the timing. If they wanted Ronnie Cookson to coach, they sure picked a good guy to replace me."

Heeb also will teach at an alternative school in Springfield, he said.

Robert Morris College has a campus in Chicago that competes in NAIA basketball.

The Springfield-based team's schedule for the past two years has included some junior college and JV programs as well as Southern Illinois-Edwardsville; Oakland City (Ind.); St. Mary College of the Woods in Terre Haute, Ind.; and Southern Virginia.