School(s): Atkins High School
Eugene THOMAS "GENE"
WERTS was a silky-smooth, 6-6 center for Atkins High School who was the team's rebound ace, an excellent ball handler and a sharpshooter
from any angle. "Wheels," as he was affectionately called by his teammates, lettered in basketball, baseball and football. This highly
acclaimed slugging first baseman gradually found that his forte was basketball during his sophomore year when Coach George Green took
the reins of the basketball team.
Werts was named to the All-City/County, All-District, All-Conference and All-State Negro AAA
(NCNHAA) basketball teams in 1955, 1956 and 1957. "Wheels" was unstoppable in 1957 as the Atkins Camels posted a 19-1 season, while
capturing the Class AAA State High School Tournament.
Werts was courted by colleges near and far but Coach Green had an influence
on "Wheels" choosing the Tennessee A&I Tigers who were perennial NAIA Champions and who were coached by the "Master," John McClendon.
"Johnny Mac" had coached Green at North Carolina (Central) College in Durham, and Green knew what coach "Mac" could do with a young
Werts joined the National Champion Tigers in 1958 and alternated between power forward and center. He was one
of three freshman who made the varsity squad. During Werts' career the Tigers won two consecutive Georgia Invitational Tournaments,
starred as the NAIA All Stars upset NCAA Champion Ohio State featuring Jerry Lucas, in the opening round of the 1960 U.S. Olympic
Werts was in fast company at Tennessee "State." His teammates read like a Who's Who with the likes of Mert Miweather,
Mel Davis, John Baynhill, Dick (Skull) Barnett, "Big Ben" Warley, Jim Satterwhite and home-boy, Willie "Weed" Porter.
several AII-NAIA teams and being selected to the United Press International (UPI) small College All- American team, Werts considered
giving the Professional ranks a shot after his junior year. Due to some respiratory concerns and a quirk in the conference ''hardship
rule" he opted to secure his degree inPhysical Education Health and Recreation and to pursue his dream to coach.
in the U.S. Army from 1963-65 as a Top Secret Documents Specialist.
He has served as a Coach in the Gary Indiana Public Schools,
Assistant Coach at Kentucky State University and Graduate Assistant at Tennessee State University.
After participating in many
coaching clinics and seminars across the nation and studying on the Graduate level at The University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands -
"Gene" has become a tenured Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Basketball Coach and coordinator of Athletics at the
Universityof the Virgin Islands-St. Thomas.