Courier Staff Writer
In their search for a new varsity basketball coach, the Ottumwa Bulldogs decided to go big.
Ottumwa announced that Kevin Kanaskie, the son of former Drake men's basketball coach and former NBA player Kurt Kanaskie, will be at the helm of the ship, as he attempts to steer the Ottumwa boys basketball program in the right direction next season.
Kanaskie will replace Chris Gravett, who went 39-71 in his five years as head of the basketball program. In his final season, the Bulldogs struggled through 2-20 record overall overall and a 1-11 mark in CIML Metro League play.
Kanaskie had a venerable basketball career as a player at Middle Tennessee State University, a division I school in the Sun Belt Conference, where he played from 2005-2009. During his time as a Blue Raider, Kanaskie, who started every year, set all-time school marks in assists, starts, games played and minutes played. The point guard averaged over 10 points per game and scored more than 11 per game in each of his last three seasons.
Kanaskie played briefly for Dowling Catholic, and he also had a renowned high school career at State College High School in Pennsylvania, where he led the school in points, steals and assists. The pedigree Kanaskie established for himself on the basketball court also got him named All-State, two-time All-Conference and All-Conference MVP.
Coaching runs in the blood of the Kanaskie family; Kevin's dad Kurt Kanaskie is currently an assistant coach at Virginia Tech. He coached at Drake University from 1996-2003 and has haunted the coaching ranks for a number of years, including 18 seasons as a head coach. He also had stints as coach at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. As head coach, Kurt has recorded 269 wins and 243 losses.
In addition, Kevin¹s father served as an assistant head coach at Navy and an assistant coach at South Carolina and Penn State. Kurt earned All-Big Five and All-East Coast Conference hours while he played for La Salle, which led to him being drafted by the Golden State Warriors.
Kanaskie will take over a program full of players who have already been tested at the varsity level. One silver lining that could be gleaned from what was at times a painful season this past winter was that the Bulldogs' young talent saw a lot of playing time.
Carter Burns, the centerpiece of Ottumwa¹s offense this past season, will enter his junior season next winter. Burns led Ottumwa with 15.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. In addition, Burns led the Bulldogs in 3-point field goals (25), 3-point percentage (41), field goal percentage (50), assists (25), blocks (16) and he shot about 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Other players who are assumed to be returning next season include Brok Hopwood, Andrew Altfillisch, Curtis Schneckloth, Chris Peden, Matthew Moreland, Sam Moreland, Aaron Roane and Colby Wagner.