By Alex Byington

Killeen Daily Herald

John Osborn didn't necessarily want to leave Belton.

But when the opportunity to return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area emerged, it was a decision he and his wife felt was best to take.

Osborn resigned from his post as Tigers head boys basketball coach early last week to accept an assistant head coaching opportunity at Hurst L.D. Bell High School north of Fort Worth.

"This is just a decision for me that I feel is going to be beneficial to me in the future as far as my coaching career goes," said Osborn, who finished his fifth year at the helm last season.

Osborn, who hails from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said the allure of working with the elite level of talent that pervades much of the Metroplex was too great an opportunity to pass up.

"It's always been in the back of my mind to get back up there and with this opportunity, I decided I just couldn't pass it up," Osborn said.

Belton athletic director Rodney Southern said the job has been posted and he hopes to make a decision on the Tigers' next basketball coach by the early part of next week.

"This has been a tough basketball job for a lot of folks and John had tremendous discipline and I never had an issue in terms of our program, how it was handled and how it was managed," Southern said. "We've talked to some people and hope to have it done by the first part of next week."

Longtime Hurst Bell head coach Willie Henderson surprised Orborn with a job offer two weeks ago to be his lead assistant, with a likelihood that Henderson is nearing retirement and Osborn would be viewed more as a secondary head coach than an assistant.

"It's going to be truly an opportunity where basically (there) will be two head coaches coaching rather than me just being an assistant in the background," Orborn said. "(I think) he's kind of looking for somebody to come in and do that with him."

While vacationing last week in Rockport, Osborn spent much of the time contemplating his future, talking the Bell opportunity over with his wife, who works in Belton ISD as an elementary P.E. teacher.

But with their oldest child about to enter high school, and two younger children in elementary school, the Osborns decided it was best to make a move now rather than wait a year or two.

Under Osborn's tutelage, Belton went 53-102 overall and 13-55 in district play, registering its first winning record in 5A at 16-15 in the 2009-10 season. Last year, the Tigers struggled with a youthful roster and finished 5-26 and 1-13 in District 12-5A play.

"There's no doubt we struggled a little bit, but we had three sophomores that were playing a lot of minutes after I lost seven seniors from the team before, (so) I was expecting the struggles," Osborn said. "But those kids have all worked really hard this offseason and ... I'm convinced those guys are going to be a whole lot better next year."

Among those returning for Belton include 6-foot-3 senior post Daniel Mills, a 12-5A all-district first-teamer who averaged an area-high 20.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season, and 6-0 guard Thomas Barnes.

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