A chance to coach closer to his hometown and at a Class 5A school was tough for Caleb Gaither to pass up.
Gaither is leaving Lower Richland High School to take the boys’ basketball job at Northwestern. He replaces John Bramlett, who stepped down after six seasons and multiple region titles at the Trojan boys’ helm.
The hire was officially approved Monday at the Rock Hill School District board meeting.
Gaither has been at Lower Richland since 2016 and led the Diamond Hornets to a state championship in his first season. He compiled a 67-44 record and made the postseason in three of his four seasons.
Lower Richland was Gaither’s first head coaching opportunity. He was an assistant at Dorman and South Pointe, and also in college at Lander University, before arriving at LR.
Gaither was a three-sport athlete at Lancaster High, which is about 30 minutes from Northwestern High in Rock Hill. He also attended Winthrop University.
Gaither’s brother, Kyle, will join the staff at Northwestern. Kyle Gaither was an assistant coach on South Pointe’s championship team this year and worked with his brother at Lower Richland.
Northwestern had back-to-back 20-win seasons before a tiebreaker kept them out of the playoffs this year. The Trojans went 10-7 in the COVID-shortened season and moved into Region 4-5A with top-10 programs Ridge View and Blythewood. They defeated Blythewood, 68-64, on Jan. 15.
Gaither will be inheriting a talented team in 2021-22: Northwestern will lose 1,000-point scorer AJ Thompson and another key guard in Matthew White, but the team will return plenty of experienced guards — like Jalen Burnett, Gerell Watkins, Omari Bryson and Jecari Bryson — and some valuable size in rising junior forward Jayden Boyd.
“It’s on good footing,” Bramlett told The Herald in February. “Whoever gets the job, they’re getting a Cadillac.”
This story will be updated.