OTTAWA, ON–Although their name has been changed from the ‘Ottawa Tomahawks’ to the ‘Ottawa Skyhawks’, fans in the nations capital can still look forward to seeing a few dunks of the same nature come this October.
After Native protesters dubbed the Tomahawk name too offensive, team owner Gus Takkale appropriately renamed the team, the Skyhawks, a moniker that still carries a high flying expectation.
Since the naming controversy, however, Takkale has made his first big move with the hiring of head coach Kevin Keathley, a young but seasoned coach from South of the border.
Keathley who has coached teams in the CBA, ABA, and the NBDL, is known for his run and gun offense and consistent ability to put winning teams on the floor. We had a chance to talk with Coach Keathley as he prepares to coach the Ottawa Skyhawks in their first inaugural season of NBLC play.
“If there’s a league outside the NBA in North America I’ve been a part of it over the years” Keathley remarks. “I’ve been fortunate to have coached some really good teams. With that experience comes the understanding that it’s not a tunnel vision approach on this level. You really have to understand the different dynamics and layers that are a part of pro basketball outside the NBA.”
Being a 35 year old coach with over 10 years of experience is a unique trait Keathley takes pride in. Having been named coach of the year in the ABA in 2005, as well as one of the top ten young coaches in America by Probasketballnews.com, Keathley’s stock is most definitely on the rise.
“I think over the years, I’ve built a certain level of trust with coaches and agents that if they send a player to me they know they will be taken care of and have an opportunity to showcase their talents in a big way. Over the years I’ve had close to 50 players of mine sign high level overseas contracts, NBA Contracts & NBA D League contracts.”
For the Skyhawks as a whole, the signing of Keathley is a step in the right direction. Attracting promising talent, whether it be players, or coaches, can only result in positive growth for the team moving forward.
“There’s a lot of great basketball being played in Canada right now. Basketball is growing at a rapid pace not only in Ottawa, but Canada as a whole. Players like Andrew Wiggins signee for Kansas, and Kyle Wiltjer power forward for the University of Kentucky, are making a huge impact on the basketball scene, on a National and international level.”
Basketball fans in Ottawa and throughout the country, hope Keathley can bring players as talented as home grown sensations Wiltjer and Wiggins. Keathley promises nothing less than an entertaining up and down game, with the chance of seeing one of tomorrows future NBA stars.
“When a fan buys a ticket to our games they might be watching the next Jamario Moon” who Keathley coached with the Kentucky Colonels in 2004-2005, before Moon got signed with the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s fun to watch these players chase their dreams. Basketball fans will be in for a treat come November that’s for sure. Specifically for the SkyHawks, you will see players that can play multiple positions, guys who are mis-matches on the court.”
While the Skyhawks are lucky to have him, so to is coach Keathley lucky to have the Skyhawks. “Having the opportunity to bring Professional basketball to the Capital City for the first time really excites me. As a competitor, you want to face new challenges and climb different mountains. This is a new mountain to climb. I’ve had success in The CBA, ABA, PBL and elsewhere over the years. This is uncharted waters for me and this is an opportunity to help build something really special in a city that has a track record of sports success.”
The Skyhawks season begins this October with several exhibitions games before league play begins in November. Games will be held at Scotiabank Place, home also to the Ottawa Senators hockey club.