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Stone, Valentine make their way back to the bench, reclaim former jobs

Basketball   | Scott Burnstein

Stone, Valentine make their way back to the bench, reclaim former jobs

LaMonta Stone and Carlton Valentine have returned to their old jobs on the state’s high school boys basketball landscape.

Stone was recently named the head coach back at River Rouge following a 13-year absence where he was a Division I college assistant at Eastern Michigan, Ohio State and Bowling Green.

Valentine returns to the bench at Lansing Sexton after a one-year hiatus in which he traveled the country watching his son, Denzel, a forward on the Michigan State team, play with the Spartans.

Both Stone and Valentine won Class B state championships in their respective previous tenures, Stone at River Rouge in 1999 and Valentine at Sexton in 2011 and 2012.

An alum of River Rouge (Class of 1984) and disciple of the legendary Lofton Greene (12 state crowns), Stone was first at the helm of the school's hardwood program in the late 1990s and early 2000s before departing for the college ranks.

He felt a calling to come home.

“I want to be here to be able to help young players, help young coaches and give them the guidance they need to succeed,” he said. “I was mentored by men like, Lofton Greene, Perry Watson (River Rouge alum, Detroit Southwestern coach, U-D Mercy coach) and Ben Kelso (longtime area PSL coach), but this generation doesn’t have a lot of those types, a whole group of players and coaches aren’t getting that kind of support. I’m here to give back, have them use me as a cheat sheet so they can get the tools needed to build their dreams.”

Stone admits that other motivations for him to return to the area and coach high school ball might be a bit selfish.

“This is also for my kids, I owe it to them after spending so much time on other people’s kids,” he said. “They want my attention now and I want to be there to give it to them”

Stone has three sons, two in elementary school and one of which who will be playing for him this winter. LaMonta Stone, Jr. has started in the backcourt at point guard for Bowling Green High School the last three years and is expected to be one of the top floor generals in the area in 2015.

Valentine’s son Denzel captained his 2011 and 2012 clubs at Sexton to repeat state titles. Like Denzel, Carlton played his college hoops in East Lansing at Michigan State, (1984-1988). He was originally named Sexton’s coach in 2005.

While Stone’s return was, at least partially, for family reasons, Valentine’s 12-month departure was for the same.

“I took a year off to be a dad and I really enjoyed it,” he said.

However the allure of the bench was too strong to keep him away for long.

“I missed it a lot, I missed being with the kids,” Valentine said. “I missed the game-planning, the practices, the Friday nights in the locker room and just being there to help kids achieve their goals of playing at the next level. This is where I belong.”