If you beat ‘em, you get to lead ‘em.
Kyle Graves has been given the reins of Basketball BC’s U-15 boys and will guide them into Canada Basketball Nationals this summer.
“I coached the B team last year and we did something that had never been done before when our B team beat the A team,” Graves said. “For myself and my players, it was a great experience beating guys who’d been picked over them.”
His team also went 6-6 against United States competition, which usually clobbers Canadian crews.
When it came time for Basketball BC to select this year’s coach, Graves was the logical choice.
“It’ll be whole new group of current Grade 9 players from throughout the province,” he said.
In years past BC was a force at nationals, routinely finished third behind powerhouses Ontario and Quebec. In the last half decade, provinces like Alberta and New Brunswick have caught up.
“So we’re trying to get back to where BC’s one of the top two or three provinces in the country,” Graves said.
He had little control over his roster last year as 24 players were split into two teams, and still doesn’t have total control with a committee in charge of the selection process.
“But this year during tryouts I’ll have a bigger say, and if it does come down to one or two players and think someone’s a better fit for our team, I’ll usually have the final say.”
“My team is based on defence, three point shooting and competing hard, and I’ll be able to tell the committee what types of players I’m looking for.”
Dealing with a committee isn’t ideal, but Graves is thankful for their help.
“In a three day tryout with 80 kids you may not see every one of them as much as you’d like,” he explained. “Last year, one kid I thought was pretty average ended up being the best player on my team.”
“You always want that extra input.”
Graves will gather his team for practices 20-30 times and take them into five or six weekend tournaments leading up to nationals.
“You’ve really got to put all of your time and commitment into a team like this, and I did get the thumbs up from my wife to do this,” he chuckled.
Graves is well known locally for leading the Sardis Falcons to a final four appearance at the 2014 BC High School Provincials. He’s a familiar face at UFV men’s basketball games as an assistant to head coach Adam Friesen.
He hopes success with Team BC will help him take the next step in what has already been a successful coaching career.
“I enjoy taking the reins in a head coaching position, and you have to show well in things like this if you want to move up in the ranks,” he said. “If I want to be part of a national program or be a head coach in at a Canadian university, that’s what they look at.”
l Meanwhile, Graves is continuing his successful Chilliwack Basketball Club program.
Graves will run two boys teams, one for current Grade 7-8 players and one for current Grade 9-11 players.
The team will practice two times a week, scrimmage other club teams and participate in club tournaments in April and June.
“We’ve got around 30 boys signed up, and I’m hoping we can continue building excitement in Chilliwack basketball,” he said.
Former Sardis star Eric Rogers (now a Trinity Western Spartan) is on the coaching roster and Graves expects to have more guests from the CIS ranks.
“Fifteen years ago Chilliwack had no club basketball, and now you’ve got options,” Graves said. “In 2000 when I was playing in high school at Sardis, the only option was a program in Abbotsford with Pat Lee.”
“You’ve got to get younger kids out because if you only have them starting in Grade 10, you’re lagging behind.”
There are still a couple spots open for both Chilliwack Basketball Club teams.
For info email Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.