Last Saturday, Kentwood high school athletic director Jo Anne Daughtry announced Blake Solomon as the school's new head basketball coach. Solomon will be replacing Brian Davis, who will be coaching at Tahoma next season. In his time at Kentwood, Solomon was part of the 2004 4A state championship team and starred alongside NBA player Rodney Stuckey.
SB Nation Seattle asked Solomon a few questions about his new job.
SB NATION SEATTLE: How does it feel to be head coach of your alma mater? Is this something you could envision doing when you graduated in 2005?
BLAKE: Coaching at my alma mater is an honor, a blessing, and is also humbling at the same time. I know this program better than most. The tradition, expectations, and the pride that comes along with being a student-athlete at Kentwood high school. To be an alumni of the school and to have been apart of a state championship team here, I come with a certain level of bias, but this, to me, is the best job in the state.
I have known since I was in high school I wanted to become a coach and help young student athletes to excel, both in the classroom and on the court. Coaching at this school has always been the dream and I am fortunate enough to be blessed with the opportunity.
SBN: Carry us through your short career. How did you end up coaching basketball at Kentwood?
BLAKE: Well, after finishing my playing career at Northwest University I was set up to be a Grad Assistant there with my old head coach John Van Dyke. However, I still had to do my student teaching with my old coach at KW, Dean Montzingo. During that time I was approached by Brian Davis to be apart of his staff. I made the decision to coach the freshman team that season.
My first year was great and I learned a lot. The following year our JV coach took an assistant job at UPS coaching college. I then moved up to the JV level for last season. My kids had a great year finishing 15-5 and winning our holiday break tournament. I learned so much in my two years in terms of coaching and managing different personalities and finding how to keep the guys engaged both in the classroom as well as on the basketball court.
SBN: Who are your coaching influences? What traits of other coaches in high school/college/NBA do you admire and want to take after?
BLAKE: My coaching influences are first Dean Montzingo, who coached me in high school, for his ability to manage different personalities as well as set players up to succeed both on and off the floor and his ability to make a great atmosphere for us to make great memories that last forever.
Mark Poth, my coach at Big Bend community college, for instilling a belief in his players to make the right plays. He did a great job of tailoring his program to his players strengths and helping us be successful individually and collectively. What I learned from him was to enjoy your time and knowing players needed to trust one another.
John Van Dyke, Northwest University, for his time he put in, helping us prepare for everything we would see. It was something special to see how many hours of film he would watch to put in in positions to be successful. He also genuinely cared for our well being and growth as men off the court as well.
Brian Davis for his passion and energy that he put into the program. And lastly Tom Izzo because he builds his program based on defending and rebounding the basketball.
SBN: Will it be weird facing Coach Davis during the regular season when your team plays Tahoma?
BLAKE: No, me and Coach Davis have a great relationship and wish the best for each other and we still talk and bounce ideas off each other. I expect those to be great games and I am grateful for the opportunity Coach Davis gave me. I look forward to game planning and looking down the sideline trying to beat him. The games this year are sure to be electric and it will be a great atmosphere to both coach and play in. I'm looking forward to the challenge!
SBN: Who is the best basketball player you have either played against, coached, or coached against?
BLAKE: Playing against my friend and ex-teammate Rodney Stuckey is the best player I have ever played with or against (in practice). Coached against would have to be Tony Wroten. But being able to see Rodney day in and day out come to work and have the success he did was very impressive.