By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Bristol Prep was in need of a shooting guard so head Coach Patrick Grayson knew just the right place to find one on Thursday. His former high school had just what the doctor ordered. Bud Icenhour cast his lot to play basketball next season at Bristol Prep on Thursday after a standout 3-sport career with the Longhorns. Icenhour will gain another year of basketball by doing so and could greatly improve the skills that will allow him to play at a higher level in college. The Pacers play a brutal schedule against some of the best prep schools in the county including Oak Hill Academy and Hargrove Military Academy. Icenhour’s stock could soar out the roof with basketball being his sole sport now.
He averaged 17 points per game, three assists and led Northeast Tennessee in most 3-point shots made on this year’s 22-11 squad. He was named to the All-Conference and All-District teams and the Tomahawk’s Dandy Dozen All Johnson-Carter County first team. In football, he has amassed more than 1,000 all-purpose yards and was tabbed to the All-Conference team. He currently is one of the leading hitters and pitchers on the baseball team and will leave as one of the best three-sport athletes to ever wear the Longhorns uniform.
Icenhour said that Bristol Prep was the right fit for him to improve his stock while he tries to get better. “I want to play against bigger, stronger and faster competition and let me see if I can do against them what I did here,” said Icenhour. “
I’ll be playing against people that I’ve never seen before, and some of them will be playing at a D-1 level after next season. Bristol Prep is sponsored by Adidas, and that got me very interested. Getting to focus all my time on basketball will make me a much better player. I just feel like this is the right fit for me.”
Icenhour was correct in his assessment. He’s always jumped out of one sport and straight into another. JCHS’ head basketball coach and athletic director Austin Atwood believes that Icenhour will become a great find once he can focus on basketball only.
“You don’t see many 3-sport athletes anymore like Bud,” said Atwood. “They usually pick one or two by the time they are juniors, but he’s given his whole life to athletics here. Bud has been a part of my family since his birth and not only as a basketball player. I can remember his dad, Billy, digging footers when I was building my house, and Bud was just a little fellow sleeping in the bucket. Billy and I have been close friends, and we’ve coached together. I can’t think of a better pure shooter in the state than Bud. He doesn’t have to have much space, and his release is quick. I can assure you that he’s a great find for them.”
Bristol Prep was started three years ago by their head coach and former Johnson County player Patrick Grayson. He played his high school ball for J.R. Campbell, and his grandmother still resides in Mountain City. He was a volunteer assistant coach at King University before moving on to Bristol Prep.“It’s a blessing to get someone like Bud to come and validate what we’re trying to do here at Bristol Prep,” said Grayson. “People don’t understand how this school helps players that are graduating high school. We start looking for them places to play from the time they walk through our doors and onto campus. We put them in front of coaches that have never seen them play and they play against some elite players. I think it’s a win-win for them.”
Icenhour likes that fact that Grayson is a former Longhorn.“We’ve already got that Johnson County connection and we’ve become close,” added Icenhour. “ I really like having him as my coach. I’m going to work on becoming just an all-around better basketball player. Playing at Johnson County was something that I always wanted to do. I grew up wanted to be a Longhorn. This year has been a special one.” Bristol Prep coach and former Milligan standout Will Ratliff believe that Icenhour can be a standout player at the college level.
“Bud has that gumption, and intestinal fortitude as my grandmother would say,” said Ratliff. “He’s going to play hard regardless if you up by 20 or down by 20. Bud is a winner who knows how to win. He likes to compete, and that’s due to all the sports that he plays. He’s definitely going to help us both on and off the floor. We’re very excited about getting him.”
Bud is the son of Billy and Jennifer Icenhour. His sisters, Rhiannon and Ryleigh are both Longhorn athletes. The parents were excited about his choice. “I think this will open up more opportunities up for him in the future,” said Billy. “He’s a good student, but this will allow him more time to prepare for what he wants to do.”Jennifer added. “I just want him to fulfill his dreams and be happy. Bud will finally get a chance to concentrate on one sport, and I think this is going to help him achieve his goal.”
Icenhour will always remember his time as a Longhorn.“I want to thank all my coaches in each sport for helping me become a better player and person,” said Icenhour. “This year has been one that I’ll never forget. We had to grind for three years and then it started to click. We had a particular football and basketball run. Baseball is starting to do that too. I’m going to miss my teammates because we’re all like brothers. I’m especially going to miss playing for the Longhorns.”