Keathley tabbed to guide Ottawa franchise in NBL Canada
by STEVE LeMASTER
Floyd County native Kevin Keathley is set to take his fast-paced style of basketball out of the country. Keathley, who guided the Pikeville-based East Kentucky Miners professional basketball franchise to back-to-back winning seasons in the CBA, recently accepted the position of head coach of the Ottawa SkyHawks. A new franchise, Ottawa is poised to play its first season in the National Basketball League of Canada. The SkyHawks will play their home games in Scotiabank Place, which opened in 1996 and also serves as the home arena for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me to be named head coach of the Ottawa SkyHawks, Ottawa’s first professional basketball franchise,” Keathley said. “There’s a rich tradition of sports success in the Canadian capital. From hockey to basketball, Ottawa is one of the great sports cities in Canada. Come November, our goal as a franchise will be to deliver a first class basketball product.”
Keathley will have an opportunity to coach in a very promising professional basketball league. NBL Canada also features the Windsor Express, London Lightning, Mississauga Power, Brampton A’s, Montreal Jazz, Saint John Mill Rats, Moncton Miracles, Summerside Storm and Halifax Rainmen.
“NBL Canada is the top league in Canada and is one of the top three leagues in North America along with the NBA and NBA D-League,” Keathley confided. “One of the reasons you get into this business is because you want to coach and compete against the very best and NBL Canada provides me that opportunity.”
Keathley, who guided the Sauk Valley Predators in the Premier Basketball League (PBL) last season, interviewed with the Ottawa Skyhawks in April and was introduced as the team’s head coach late last week.
In 2008, Keathley guided the East Kentucky Miners to a single-game scoring record when the then-first year professional basketball franchise netted 194 points en route to a win. He brings a run-n-gun style to the arena and there’s no doubt that hoops-hungry Ottawa fans are ready to embrace fast-paced basketball.
“The Scotiabank arena seats almost 20,000 people and is one of the nicest arenas anywhere in Canada or the United States,” Keathley commented. “Ottawa is home to some of the greatest fans you will find anywhere. We have a passionate front office staff that wants to accomplish great things in our inaugural season and then add in what we’re going wanting to do on the basketball court and you have a perfect storm coming to NBL Canada next season.”
Keathley will work for a franchise under the direction of owner Gus Takkale.
“I was really drawn to what Gus and the ownership group is trying to do with the SkyHawks,” Keathley added. “Not only do they want to put a winning product on the floor, but they want to put a winning product out in the community as well. The franchise has only been announced for a couple of months and team owner Gus Takkale and technical director Merrick Palmer have been out in the community doing big things in a positive way. That’s what I’m all about. When you can use basketball as a vehicle to make a difference in someone’s life, that is just icing on the cake. I feel we share the same vision for what a franchise should be doing off the floor as well. It’s really a perfect fit in that regard.
“If the Ottawa fans show us half the passion and half the support they show their Senators of the NHL we will be home to one of the most exciting and intimidating places to play in all of basketball, not just NBL Canada. I can’t wait for the fans to see what we have in store for them come November. A lot of work is ahead of us from now until November, but come opening night it’s going to be exciting.”
The Ottawa ownership group chose Keathley out of a very talent-heavy pool of candidates.
“I am excited to have Coach K alongside us as we prepare for Ottawa’s first championship run,” Takkale said. “As promised, we are going to show Ottawa a high-flying, uptempo, fast-paced basketball team; and Coach K has a track record of not only championships, but also setting numerous high-scoring records at the pro level. His success speaks for itself. He has never had a losing season in his 10-year coaching career, he has built championship teams, and he is a published author on coaching. When he is not on the court, you will find him dedicating his time in the community and working with children. The Ottawa SkyHawks are honored to have him.”
Keathley’s fast-paced style of basketball knows no boundaries. He has been a part of two championship teams on the professional level in his coaching career and now he’s looking to capture his third title in Canada.
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