Forsyth Country Day will usher in a new face for its athletics department and boys basketball program. 

Doug Esleeck, a Winston-Salem native who most recently served as an associate head coach at UNC-Wilmington, has been named the school's athletics director and boys basketball coach, according to a school release on Monday.

The 37-year-old replaces John Stubblefield, who began his tenure as AD in July 2018. Stubblefield is set to move into new roles as the director of a gap year program and leadership program at Forsyth Country Day. Those programs, he said, are set to begin during the 2020-21 school year and will be geared toward students continuing education in between high school and college. 

According to Stubblefield, the decision to step down and take his new position came over the last several weeks. 

"It's putting me back into doing that type of work, and I spent 16 years in the classroom," said Stubblefield, who was a head of school at Delaware Christian in Ohio prior to arriving at Forsyth Country Day. "The job that they're going to ask me to do lines up a lot with my degree and those expertise." 

Esleeck, who graduated from the former Westchester Academy (now known as Westchester Country Day) in High Point, has spent the bulk of his career in athletics. That included his hiring in 2005 as the director of men's basketball operations at UNCG under Mike Dement. Esleeck went on to spend four seasons on Rick Scruggs' staff at Gardner-Webb before a seven-year tenure at Mercer — including his promotion as the Bears' associate head coach in 2014. 

Mercer amassed a 146-98 record during that span, along with an Atlantic Sun Tournament championship during the 2013-14 season — the Bears' first in nearly two decades. That season included a win against No. 6 Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as well. 

Esleeck, who was C.B. McGrath's first hire at UNCW in 2017, was promoted to the Seahawks' associate head coach in March 2019. According to Esleeck, he's known Gardner Barrier, Forsyth Country Day's head of school, dating back years. Barrier's younger brother, Thomas, lived with Esleeck when the pair attended North Carolina.

Esleeck, who graduated from UNC in 2005, played within the Tar Heels' JV program for two seasons and was an instructor for camps operated by the men's basketball program as well. 

And the move to Forsyth County puts Esleeck in close proximity to family, which benefits his 4-year-old daughter, Grier. His wife, Ashley, grew up in Clemmons as well. 

"You know, we're going to be close to both sets of grandparents, which is just so awesome — for her, for them, for us. To have that opportunity, from a family standpoint, is just tremendous," Esleeck said. "Professionally, it's the kind of opportunity that you dream about." 

He takes over the Furies, previously led by Monty Gray. Gray spent two years at the helm of the program — this past season finishing at 12-10 with a second-round loss to Hickory Grove Christian in the NCISAA Class 3-A playoffs.

Stubblefield said Gray's coaching contract, which is typically renewed yearly for those jobs, expired and was offered a chance to continue in his role. Gray, however, opted to step away from the program in May.

"He's got a tremendous amount of basketball experience," Stubblefield said of Esleeck. "He brings, not only that coaching experience, but that administrative experience. … It's, kind of, checking all the boxes.

"And then the added benefit is that he'll be a great resource to help our players that want to go on and play at the next level because he's got that contact — that experience from the other side of that, what programs are looking for, what the coaches are looking for, how that process really functions." 

pferlise@wsjournal.com

@PatrickFerlise

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