Baker leaves Southfield Christian for Alabama

By: Zachary Manning | Southfield Sun | Published April 24, 2019

 Former Southfield Christian boys basketball coach Josh Baker cracks a smile during the Division 4 state championship game at the Breslin Center this past season. Baker will be joining the University of Alabama’s men’s basketball staff.

Former Southfield Christian boys basketball coach Josh Baker cracks a smile during the Division 4 state championship game at the Breslin Center this past season. Baker will be joining the University of Alabama’s men’s basketball staff.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Southfield Christian coach Clennie Brundidge gestures to the stands after winning a Class D state title in 2014. Brundidge has been named the Eagles’ new head coach.

Southfield Christian coach Clennie Brundidge gestures to the stands after winning a Class D state title in 2014. Brundidge has been named the Eagles’ new head coach.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — The relationship between Nate Oats and Josh Baker has come full circle.

Baker, the former Southfield Christian boys basketball coach, accepted a position to join Oats’ University of Alabama staff as a special assistant to the head coach and will begin his work with the Crimson Tide May 13.

Their connection began at Maranatha Baptist University, where the two played basketball together. A few years after their playing careers were over, Oats and Baker began coaching together at Romulus High in 2002.

After about 10 years together at Romulus, Baker left the school prior to the 2011-12 season to lead Southfield Christian. Oats also left Romulus for an assistant coaching job at the University at Buffalo under Bobby Hurley in 2013. Two years later, Oats became the head coach of the Bulls.

During his time at Southfield Christian, Baker earned a 181-30 overall record, while also collecting five Division 4 state championships (one as an assistant).

“I’m really excited to get them down there and get my kids running around the arena and on the football field in their Crimson Tide gear,” Baker said.

For Baker and the Eagles, there were mixed emotions. Baker was sad to leave the program but excited for the opportunity to coach at the next level.

Baker noted that he told his players about the job when they were discussing state championship rings. He said his players were excited for him, and junior guard Noah Rheker got the team huddled up to say a prayer.

“It’s tough to leave. Obviously, the community there has been incredible to me and my family and our kids, and so much help. That’s been a great part of it,” Baker said. “With the basketball, just the staff that we’ve had, and the coaches that have put in the time that they have and some of the players that we’ve had, it’s been a thrill.”

Southfield Christian Athletic Director Tim Donnan was also sad to see Baker go, but noted that he left a huge impact on the program.

“The success the program’s had is no mistake,” Donnan said. “I think he’s the kind of guy who could go in at any school in America and be successful, because he’s going to develop what he has there. If they’re not doing well, he’s going to just even work harder.”

The Eagles won’t have to go far to find a new coach, as longtime assistant Clennie Brundidge will be the new head man on the Southfield Christian bench.

Brundidge served as acting head coach for the Eagles in 2013-14, with Baker stepping into a smaller role to be with his young family. During that season, Brundidge led Southfield Christian to a program-best 26-1 record and a Class D state championship.

With the loss of just four seniors and multiple starters returning, Brundidge and the Eagles will be looking to claim a third straight D-4 state title next season.

“I’m going to be highly motivated to continue the tradition of Southfield Christian and put more banners on the wall,” Brundidge said.

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