"He is a great overall fit for us. He will bring enthusiasm to the program. He has a great demeanor about him, he's disciplined and he has great passion for the game. I think our young people will be excited to be around him."
Harp says there was no emphasis on hiring an African-American coach.
"We didn't hire him because he's African-American. We hired him because we felt he was the best man for the job," Harp said. "Having another strong African-American role model for the school is another plus. But we emphasized through the hiring process that we wanted the best person to fit our school, and he was by far the best person."
Harp said Danville had over 40 applicants for the job, including 12 from Tennessee. Coaches from Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia and Arkansas also applied along with coaches from Kentucky.
Yates has spent the last two years as an assistant coach at Union College. Before that he was head coach at Model for one year and West Jessamine for four years. He was also an assistant coach at Frankfort.
Love is high school coaching
"The first thing that attracted me back to high school coaching is that I realized I loved high school coaching. My love is high school basketball, and this is a great opportunity to get back into that area," Yates, who will teach physical education at the high school, said.
Former Danville all-state football player John Gray, an assistant football coach at Union, first told Yates about Danville needing a coach. "He always talks about how fond he is of Danville, and my wife-to-be and me both felt it would be a great community to live in. I have experience in smaller school systems, and liked it," Yates said.
Yates calls the Danville job a "diamond in the rough." He says he remembers the success Ed McKinney had as Danville coach and counts Tim Godbey, an assistant under McKinney, as a good friend.
"It's not like I am going to a perennial loser that has an attitude of losing. We just need to rekindle that winning spirit that was there before," Yates, who played at Kentucky State, said. "I know the potential is there to win and I have enough confidence in my ability to coach to believe I can turn the program around. This is a perfect spot for me."
Yates also isn't worried about sharing athletes with other sports or having football players join the team late.
"I welcome having players play more than one sport. At West Jessamine, a lot did it," Yates said. "That' no problem for me. I may not get my full team until a week before the season (because of football), but that's fine with me because I am confident in my ability to teach what players need to know."
Harp says everyone he contacted was impressed with Yates.
"He's very professional and really knows what he is doing and wants to do," Harp said. "By making the hire now, he can get started on his summer plans."
Actually, Yates had started on those plans the last two weeks in anticipation of getting the job.
"I have already talked to a team camp I want to attend in June. I had been preparing for this and hoping I would get the job," Yates said. "I am going to try and come to the school and have some open gyms just to develop a rapport with the guys. I'm already anxious to get started."
Harp is "still working" on hiring a new girls basketball coach.
"We have about 12 applicants at this time. We would like to have it done by the first of May, but we will not rush. We also want to get the best person we can for that position," he said.