Meet James ‘Boo’ Brewer. You’ve probably heard of him before. He’s the local athlete that many simply known as ‘Boo’. He’s the Bardstown High School Basketball player that went on to the play for University Of Louisville, and eventually had a success overseas professionally. He built a legacy as a basketball player, a Hometown Hero of sorts for those that lived in Bardstown. Who knew, many years later, he would return to his Alma-Mater of Bardstown High School to build a new legacy. A coaching legacy.
When Brewer took over the Bardstown Basketball team in 2010, they had just come off an 8-17 season. The program had taken a downward spiral after seeing unknown success the year before. However, the year Brewer arrived, things changed, and quickly. In his first season as Head Basketball Coach, Brewer took Bardstown to only its second ‘Sweet Sixteen’ in 20 years at Rupp Arena; en route to a 23-5 season.
“You know, they went 9-17 the year before but they had a great coach in Coach (Gary) Goode. When I went to the program, the foundation was already set; all I had to do was to get the kids to believe in my system. They had to believe in the way I coached and work hard and everything would pay off. I just went in the hallways and communicated with the kids playing in the Community Center, that didn’t want to play in High School, whether it was grades or whatnot,” Brewer said. “What I did was try to set out to help these kids out academically, and help em’ out in school and then they could come and play. Once you put a basketball in their hands, they were comfortable, so I didn’t limit they’re game, I just kinda tweaked it to where they believed in themselves and me; and I built the offense that way.”
It was nothing uncommon for Brewer to have instant success; after all, he had done it everywhere he went.
While a Teenager at Bardstown, Brewer starred in Basketball, Football, Baseball and Track. He was a five time letterman in basketball, held several records for Bardstown High School, made the Kentucky All-State team 3 times and was runner-up to Mr. Kentucky Basketball his senior year. Brewer went on to play at University of Louisville, and still owns the record for most Three Pointers made in a game. After college, Brewer played professional basketball for four years overseas.
Brewer was elected to the first inaugural Bardstown High School Hall of Fame in 2004, then, began his Coaching Career in a year later at LaRue County High School.
As assistant Head Coach for LaRue County High School, Brewer flourished, in his second season LaRue County received runner-up in the district for 2007 and again in 2008. Additionally, Brewer coached both Girls and Boys Middle School Basketball and led them to similar success.
“I think what lead me to coaching is kids. I’ve always-ever since High School and College- I’ve always had a connection with Kids,” Brewer noted. “When I started at Larue County, I was still playing professional basketball. I was always involved in the little league program, baseball, basketball, football…so I got to know the kids.”
In 2010, when Former Head Coach Gary Goode left Bardstown, Brewer got the chance to return to his alma-mater.
“I got the call from my ex-football coach here in Bardstown. I was looking to branch out and go somewhere else. We had offers to go to Trinity- my sons a good football player, so we had offers to go there- I was looking into Jeff, I was trying to get back to the Louisville area,” Brewer explained. “Then, this job came up; my ex-coach from High School called me and said ‘You might want to look at this job’. So I came to school, checked it out, talked to the Superintendent, and then I applied. It’s been a blessing.”
These days, Brewer is having unheard of success at Bardstown. Brewer has taken the Tigers to one Sweet Sixteen appearance. Additionally, he’s now taken the Tigers to four straight Regional Tournaments and had them, once again, contending for a 5th Region Championship this year. Before Brewer arrived at Bardstown High School, no coach ever had taken the Tigers to more than two straight Regional Tournaments. Amassing an outstanding career record of 93-28, the key to his success has been simple.
"Boo [Brewer] has made a connection with his players as a role model and mentor and seems to treat each one of them as he did his own sons who have played for him,” Local Radio Play-by-Play announcer Kenny Fogle said. “In turn, each of these players seem to give just a little bit more effort and play just a little more as a team making it a great relationship, both as a basketball team and as family.”
Brewer’s two sons, Jordan Brewer and Anthony ‘Smurf’ Marks, whom he and his wife adopted, both played for him last year. Brewer agreed that the experience of coaching sons have helped treat other players like family.
“You know, Coach Crum was like that,” Brewer noted. “I just think the more of a family you are, the tighter you are; the more you’ll have confidence and trust in one another when it’s time to go to war on the basketball court.”
Ask Brewer what has helped him the most as a Coach, he’ll always give you the same response.
“Man, I can go days and nights talking about Coach (Denny) Crum,” Brewer said with a chuckle. “He’s show me to not only love the game; but that if you show the kids how much you care for them and how much you appreciate them, that they’ll work harder for you.”
Although, the Tigers fell to John Hardinal in the Regional Quarterfinals this year- they’ll be back…even if others don’t agree.
You see, their Head Coach, has been put in many positions before, where others thought he would fail-and he’s done the exact opposite. One thing is certain, Boo Brewer will continue building a legacy of excellence, one player and one family a time.