Socastee community mourns the loss of head basketball coach

Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 6:33 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2023 at 10:27 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A week after Socastee High School’s head basketball coach passed away after a battle with cancer, those he coached and left an imprint on are remembering his legacy.

“It’s tough because he was rooting for me,” said Preston Smith, a recent Socastee alumnus.

Smith recalls coach Derrick Hilton’s impact on him going back to the 8th grade.

“He’s a big reason why I am going to college and playing basketball,” he added.

From starring in the State Championship in 1998 to leading his team as head coach for nearly two decades later, Hilton was deeply rooted in the Socastee community.

Even in his last days, Hilton was offering those around him words of encouragement.

“Just keep grinding, and I was like, dang, that was the last thing he said to me,” said Smith.

RELATED: Socastee High School mourns basketball coach lost to cancer

Other basketball communities are also mourning Hilton’s death.

“Derrick Hilton was a great friend of ours at big shots, he was part of our family,” said The COO of Big Shots, Kevin Schneider. “He impacted so many around not just the Grand Strand but nationally,” Schneider added.

“I was [in] a student teacher game, and we ended up guarding each other, and that whole time like it’s even in our yearbook, it’s just us smiling at each other while we’re playing against each other, and that’s just how it was with me and him,” said Smith.

From playing alongside Hilton in his youth to joining him as coach years later, Socastee’s JV Head Coach Alvin Green looks back on the memories they shared.

“I’m just happy to most importantly have been in his presence and you know just learn a lot from him and just be that little brother next to him all the time,” said Green. “Just being that little pest and we need to try this, or maybe we should do this or whatever, and he’s like

“I got you AG, and just give me that smile,” said Green.

Although he’ll be missed by many, they’re hoping to let his legacy live on.

“Like I was supposed to be him on the court, and that’s what I tried my best to do,” said Smith. “He was always making sure I was doing the right thing when it comes to being on the court, like being a leader on the court.”

The Socastee community will hold a celebration of life memorial for Hilton at the Socastee High School Gymnasium on Monday at 1 p.m.

Hilton was diagnosed with renal cancer in October 2022. Doctors told him it reached stage four, spreading to his hips and lungs.