Pickett ready to lead program close to his heart as he takes over as Hannibal boys basketball coach


Josh Pickett, center, has helped build the Hannibal Youth Basketball program and now is the head boys basketball at Hannibal High School, officially being named to the position Thursday. | Photo courtesy Hannibal Youth Basketball

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Josh Pickett has never forgotten what it felt like to represent Hannibal on the hardwood.

“Every time I go into Korf Gym, it brings back memories,” he said.

The time has come for Pickett to help the Pirates recreate those moments.

Thursday, Pickett was introduced as the new Hannibal boys basketball coach, sliding over from his role as a varsity assistant coach to replace Marty Hull as the man in charge. Hull resigned at the beginning of March following seven seasons at the helm.

The Pirates went 7-17 this season, losing to Wentzville Holt in the Class 5 District 4 quarterfinals.

“I think growing up in Hannibal and being a Hannibal guy and playing basketball in high school made me a part of it,” said Pickett, who is a 2003 graduate of Hannibal High School and played collegiately at John Wood Community College and Hannibal-LaGrange University. “Seeing the program grow is important to me.”

That’s why he’s been committed to building interest in hoops from the ground up.

Pickett has served as one of the directors of Hannibal Youth Basketball since its inception, joining forces with other Hannibal products such as Wayne McPike, Brad Kurz, Caleb Gosney and Brian Scott to introduce grade school kids to the game.

“We’re trying to build up the culture,” Pickett said. “We have some really good dudes that want to come together and build something. Hannibal is more known as a football and a wrestling town. Those guys were outstanding this year and that’s great to see.

“But we want to elevate basketball a little more.”

That has always been his goal. Pickett spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at HLGU before joining Hull’s staff with the Pirates in 2019. And he’ll tell you basketball has always been in his blood.

“My wife has to pry me away from it,” said Pickett, who set the Hannibal single-game record for assists (18) and the single-season record (162) as a senior when he averaged 11.7 points and 6.2 assists. “When I get home and she hears the basketball, she’s like, ‘Nope, we’re done.’ I’m in the game all the time.

“I watch film all the time. I’ll be watching a game and I’ll be like, ‘Hey, you need to stop that and rewind it because they just did something and I like that.’ It’s hard to get me away from it. I really enjoy it.”

The Pirates will graduate eight seniors and will rebuild around junior forward Clayton Neisen and sophomore forward Nic Thomas. Pickett spent much of the season working with the junior varsity squad and many of the freshmen who played for him will be expected to have expanded roles next season.

“I’ve told them a lot of times and preached to them that high school basketball is a whole lot different than junior high, especially the physical aspect of it and the speed of the game,” Pickett said. “There’s definitely some talent there though. We just have to get a little better at basketball, and I’m looking forward to teaching them that.”

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