Stephen A: Give us a little background about yourself, where you’re from, etc…
Coach: Cuba, Kansas is my hometown. It’s a small town that makes Owensboro look like a metropolis. In high school, I played all sports, football, basketball, baseball & track. I attended college at Kansas Wesleyan, a small Methodist college very similar to Kentucky Wesleyan. I ended up just playing football. I didn’t play basketball even though I did have the opportunity to. I was 19 and had to choose and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future. Going back, I probably would have played basketball if I knew this was the career I was going to go into. I grew up as a big Kansas State fan. I loved Mitch Richmond, Steve Henson and Lon Kruger. Later, when Bill Self came along, it kind of evolved because I always had a respect for him. While I wouldn’t say I’m a Kansas fan, I find myself rooting for them more than I did when I was younger. I’ve always had a lot of respect for coaches who can continuously compete for championships. When you’re in the business for 17 years, it’s fascinating to see people who can do it year after year.
Stephen A: Tell us about your coaching background and some of the guys you’ve coached. How exactly did that road lead to Owensboro?
Coach: When I graduated Kansas Wesleyan, I stayed around as a coach’s assistant for a few years while I finished my Master’s degree. From there, I moved on to the Kansas junior college circuit. They have a real competitive junior college circuit in Kansas. It was there that I met the current league owner and president, David Magley. I coached his son there. At that time he was transitioning to take on a new pro venture in Canada, as a head coach. I wasn’t sure what my role was going to be but I had never been to Canada before, so I went for it. It was unbelievable. I was there for 4 years coaching a prep school team. We had a lot of guys that people are familiar with. Guys like Thon Maker, Matur Maker, Jamal Murray, Kyle Alexander(from Tennessee) and Nikola Djogo. Nikola is red shirt freshman at Notre Dame. He is starting tonight against Duke. I love keeping up with these guys. It was a great experience traveling around coaching these guys. When I was with Thon, we had 14 trips that we flew to. We got to play in the Marshall County Hoop fest. We played in California. We played on ESPN against Findlay Prep, which was incredible. I only swore a few times on live TV, which was good for my mom. We had a great time. My last year in Canada I got to coach Andrew Wiggins brother, Rondae Hollis Jeffersons brother, and Pascal Siakam’s brother James, who currently plays at Vanderbilt. Guys on our current roster, Paris Scales and Tyshawn Patterson also played with me there last year. It was an unbelievable experience for me and a great stepping stone. I credit president and owner David Magley with bringing me here. He has been a big help to me along the way.
Stephen A: What has been your impression of the Owensboro community?
Coach: Everybody here loves basketball. I know that was one of the most attractive things to me. Obviously there are things that go into that, like winning, but people here have been great to me and to all of us. We’re still trying to get our name out there to everybody and we’re here to help as well. We love going into schools to meet the kids. We enjoy getting involved with non-profit organizations. We are really really trying to make a difference here. For us, it’s not just about winning basketball games. (Stephen A) Kind of like the Brooklyn Shannon benefit this past Saturday…. How cool was that? That was purely the city of Owensboro that made that happen. A couple of our people worked hard to see it through but the people made it happen. I can’t imagine what her family is going through. I can’t imagine what her friends and classmates are going through. For us to be able to show them how much people care about them and maybe put a smile on their face for a couple of hours, that’s pretty cool.
Stephen A: What kind of basketball product can people expect from the Kentucky Thoroughbreds?
Coach: They are going to see a fast paced game. They are going to see 12 kids on our team that absolutely want to perform for this town and this organization. They are going to see a quality opponent every night out. There are no off days in this league. They are going to see 12 guys that are easy to root for. I feel like all it takes is getting people out to see the product because the first time they see us play, I feel like they will become an instant fan of this team. Come on out to the Sportscenter and get behind this team!