Fred Pickett, longtime Chester hoops coach, passes away

Fred Pickett, a longtime boys' basketball coach at Chester High, died Wednesday following a battle with cancer.

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Fred Pickett, a longtime boys' basketball coach at Chester High, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He guided the Clippers for 13 seasons and won three PIAA Class AAAA state championships.

In charge of the Clippers from 1995 to 2008, Pickett, 61, compiled a record of 331-80 (.805 winning percentage), earned eight PIAA District 1 Class AAAA championships, and won three state titles.

Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer, whose Aces opposed Pickett and the Clippers many times, visited Pickett about a week ago.

"We had many battles on the court over the years, but I always had a lot of respect for him and what he did in the Chester community," Downer said. "There was a mutual frienship and respect."

Pickett was a lifelong resident of Chester. Family, friends, and former players gathered at his home Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects.

Meghan Sgro and Pickett were co-workers in the Delaware County Juvenile Court and Probation Services Department. Pickett was a community liaison officer.

"Fred was an unbelievable guy," Sgro said. "More than anything, he was about saving and helping kids. He would do whatever he could to make that happen."

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, who starred at Temple and played last year in Luxembourg, was among the former Clippers at Pickett's house Wednesday. "He meant so much to a lot of people," said Sgro, an academic tutor with the Chester program.

Pickett first became involved with Chester basketball in 1979 as a volunteer assistant coach. He left to coach briefly at Delaware County Community College and Lincoln University before returning to the Clippers to assist Alonzo Lewis.

In 2007-08, Pickett's final season, Chester went 33-1, won the District 1 championship, and claimed the state crown with an 81-77 triumph over Norristown at Penn State.

Funeral arrangements were pending.