08/24/10 — Wells Gulledge will enter MOC hall of fame

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Wells Gulledge will enter MOC hall of fame

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 24, 2010 1:46 PM

KINSTON --Wells Gulledge doesn't boast about his accomplishments.

The always-humble basketball coach is more than willing to let recognition come based on the merits of his career.

Gulledge's latest accolade is enshrinement in the Mount Olive College Athletics Hall of Fame -- a place reserved for the best and brightest on the college's playing grounds.

"It's absolutely and amazing honor," Gulledge said on Monday afternoon. "To be thought of in the same light as the best athletes in Mount Olive history is overwhelming."

As a men's basketball player, Gulledge emerged as a standout from 1994-97. Playing alongside fellow MOC hall of famer Russell Stephens, Gulledge learned about hard work and what it took to be the best.

Stephens and Gulledge are still close friends as well as successful high school coaches.

"Russell was a much better player than I was, and he taught me a lot about the game because he was a couple years older than me," said Gulledge. "He was in my wedding and he is still one of my best friends, which will make the whole ceremony that much more special."

Former Mount Olive head coach Bill Clingan was also a huge influence on Gulledge as both a player and now as a coach. The all-time leader in victories at Mount Olive, Clingan brought a teaching mentality to the hardwood that Gulledge has tried to imitate at Kinston High School.

"Coach Clingan was like a father figure to me," Gulledge said. "A lot of the things I do with my team today are things that coach Clingan showed me years ago."

In his nine seasons at Kinston, Gulledge has amassed a 168-38 record and two state championships. He was named the Associated Press high school coach of the year in 2008. Known for producing top-tier collegiate talent, Gulledge has been able to build a name for himself by molding high school athletes.

It's a legacy that he takes seriously despite only being in his mid-30's.

"Everyone's legacy is tied to the people that they help," said Gulledge. "I try my best to help the kids that I see every day so that they can become better basketball players and better people."

Two of Gulledge's students will put on a Mount Olive basketball jersey this fall. Dorey Hines, a fleet-footed point guard, and Josh Benoit, a physical forward, will report to coach Joey Higginbotham's squad.

"Those two guys have worked very hard and it's great to see them heading to Mount Olive," said Gulledge. "I know (Higginbotham) is very high on both of them and that's very rewarding for me as a coach."

Gulledge and his fellow inductees will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 20 at Kornegay Arena.

"It's going to be a great night for a lot of reasons," Gulledge said. "Not only because of the ceremony, but because I can sit back and relax and watch two of my former players take the floor at a place that is very special to me."