Andy Poplin said he’s going home.
Poplin, 49, has been hired as the new head boys’ basketball coach at AL Brown High School in Kannapolis. The move brings him back to the Cabarrus County area, where he once led Concord High to a state championship.
“I was born in Charlotte and moved to Concord when I was 2,” Poplin said. “I’ve been a Cabarrus County guy most of my life. So I really am excited. I really loved the (South Piedmont 3A) conference and there’s some great coaches in our conference, and since I left, Cabarrus County basketball has continued to take off.”
At Brown, Poplin will teach physical education beginning next fall. He will replace Shelwyn Klutz, who won 302 games over a long career. Brown was 21-8 last season.
Poplin was hired at Hickory in 2013. Previously, he led Concord to the 2007 N.C. 3A state championship. Poplin has deep Cabarrus County ties. He was head coach at Mount Pleasant from 1994-2003 and coached at Concord for four years after that.
Poplin led Concord to back-to-back state finals in 2006 and 2007. His 2005-06 team finished 25-6 and lost 79-75 to Greensboro Dudley in the championship round. A year later, Poplin took the Spiders back to the championship round and beat Kinston 85-79. Concord finished 27-4.
He resigned at Concord after the 2007 state championship season, acknowledging that two N.C. High School Athletic Association rules about working with players out-of-season had been violated.
Poplin returns to a county that is enjoying unprecedented success in his sport.
In 2016, J.M. Robinson won the 3A state championship. Cox Mill won in 2017 and ‘18. And last February, Cannon School on the N.C. Independent Schools 4A title.
“I know we have our work cut out for us,” Poplin said.
At Hickory, Poplin’s most recent team finished 22-6 and lost to Freedom in the third round of the NCHSAA 3A playoffs. After going 13-12 in his first season at Hickory, Poplin’s teams have won at least 20 games each year. His record at the school is 158-40.
Poplin is a Lenoir-Rhyne graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
“Basketball,” he said, “is a great program to grow young people, and I think Kannapolis is a good place, and Shelwyn Klutz did a great job. He’s a great man, and to be kind of following in his footsteps is a big deal. He laid the foundation. I’ll just try to keep pushing.”