Legendary McCullough and The Woodlands High School basketball coach Terry Priest died Friday evening after an illness, according to close friend and a social media post from Abilene Christian basketball, the college program for which Priest played for in the 60s.
Priest was the first-ever head coach for McCullough High School, which was renamed The Woodlands in the mid-90s. He held that position for 22 seasons beginning in 1977-78, compiling a 379-314 record. His teams made the playoffs nine times and won four district championships. His best season leading the program was his final one in 1998-99 when the Highlanders advanced to the regional finals and finished with a 27-10 record.
Shawn Almond took over for Priest and guided the program for six seasons before current head coach Dale Reed took the reins.
“He just did a great job and ran a clean program,” Reed said. “He demanded his kids to do well and act right. When I got the job, I contacted him just to see what it was like to be the head coach at The Woodlands, and he was always very cordial and was great to share information. Then, as he became an athletic director over in Fort Bend, when we would go over there, I would see him sometimes, and he was always so pleasant to talk to. Just a great man.”
During his time with the Highlanders, Priest coached several standout players. Among the most notable was Lance Blanks, who starred at the University of Texas and became a first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in the 1990 NBA draft. Priest also coached current Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard, who led the Red Raiders to an NCAA Tournament championship game appearance last spring.
“Coach Beard just loves Terry Priest and speaks nothing but highly about him,” Reed said. “When you talk to the people who played for Coach Priest, you see what a great man he was.”
Priest finished his coaching career with a 459-366 overall record, according to an online record of Texas high school coaching victories. Before he became a successful high school coach, Priest was a successful player. He was a two-time all-conference selection for Abilene Christian.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.