Simon Morefield returns home as Truman High School head boys basketball coach
Simon Morefield is returning to his alma mater.
The talented former center – who played for Truman during the end of the Steve Broughton era and the start of Billy Guinnee's successful run – is taking over as the new head coach of the Patriots boys basketball team.
He will replace Rod Briggs, who resigned as head coach after five seasons to accept an activities director's position at Pioneer Ridge, the Independence middle school that feeds all Truman sports and activities programs.
"I was a kid when Coach Broughton was the head coach, and I got to start my junior and senior years for Coach Guinnee," said Morefield, a 2005 Truman graduate. "I learned from three of the best – Coach Broughton, Coach Guinnee and Coach Briggs. And now I get to come back!"
Morefield was an assistant during Briggs' first season with Truman and then left to take over the Plattsburg High School boys basketball team, which reached its first ever state final four in the 2018-19 season.
"It's hard to leave Plattsburg," Morefield said, "but since I was a little kid, I dreamed of playing basketball at Truman. And once I got there as a player, I knew I wanted to coach there.
"I learned so much from Coach Briggs our first season – about life and about basketball and working with young men – and that gave me the confidence to go to Plattsburg and have some success at a school with great players and great parents."
Morefield's final four team finished that memorable season with a 22-10 record and fourth-place finish at state.
"Simon is the perfect guy for the job at Truman," Briggs said. "I am so pleased they hired him. He was very insightful and aware of the issues that needed to be fixed that first year."
The Patriots were short on talent but long on desire that first year, finishing with a 2-24 record. Briggs and Morefield were the perfect duo to encourage a group of young players who helped bring a winning basketball culture back to Truman.
After that 2-24 first year, Briggs compiled a 52-42 record over his last four seasons at Truman after spending 10 years at Lansing (Kan.) High School, where he guided that program to a 156-68 record, six state tournament appearances in seven seasons, four straight state final four appearances, two state championship game appearances and one undefeated state title (25-0 in 2014).
"Simon really bought into playing the long game of building a program from within," Briggs said. "He's a very good coach, and he did what you have to do to get a Suburban Conference head coaching job – he left this building, built his own program and that success is now paying off with his return to Truman.
"He understands the city and how to relate to our students. And he bleeds red, white and blue."
Morefield's passion for Truman made an impact on activities director Daniel Bieser, who said he wanted someone to continue the momentum Briggs had started.
"When Rod told me he was leaving, I put a list together in my head of candidates, and Simon was on that list," Bieser said. "And I am so pleased he applied and got the job. We had to make the right hire after Rod had done so much for this program, and we think we have the right man for the job.
"Simon can relate to the kids, he's a great coach. Look at all he accomplished at Plattsburg with the first final four and multiple district titles, and he's Truman through and through."
Morefield, his wife Meredith and their 15-month-old son Simon Jr., who dad says, "Is a pretty good shooter on his Fisher Price basketball goal," now live north of the river but will soon look for a home in Independence.
"Independence was my home and will always be my home," Morefield said. "I wish I was more handy, I'd love to look at one of those beautiful homes up on The Square. But wherever we move, we plan on being there a long time."
Morefield has had the opportunity to work with the players who will make up the 2021-22 Truman basketball team, and he likes what he sees.
"Coach Briggs definitely didn't leave the cupboard bare," said Morefield, who was a member of The Examiner's All-Area team, all district, all conference and a member of the Missouri team in the Mo-Kan All-Star Basketball game in his playing days. "We lost a lot of great players to graduation, but the players who are coming back were around those guys and know what it takes to play a high level of varsity basketball in the Suburban Conference.
"We're going to be a well-conditioned team, and we'll play a style that fits the type of players we have on the court. We'll play good defense, and if a player doesn't want to give 100 percent, he'll find himself next to me on the bench.
"But I don't see that happening. These guys are as excited as I am. I can't wait."