Keno Davis’ first year as a Division I Head Coach could not have gone any better. He was named the 2007-08 AP National Coach of the Year after leading Drake University to a 28-5 overall record, the Missouri Valley Regular Season and Tournament Championships, and the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in over 35 seasons. From there, he spent time as the Head Coach at both Providence College and Central Michigan University, mentoring, leading, and growing along the way.
For nine seasons, the 2014-15 Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award recipient led Central Michigan to 142 overall wins, three 20+ win seasons, one MAC Regular Season Championship, two MAC West Division Championships, and four post-season berths, rebuilding a program that had only five winning seasons in the 33 seasons prior to his arrival. Since departing Central Michigan in April of 2021, Davis has remained busy. In 2022, Davis was the Head Coach and Assistant GM of Flint United, a semi-professional team in Michigan. Davis currently serves as a college men’s basketball color commentator with ESPN+, but he will undoubtedly be back on the sidelines in the near future.
What inspired you to become a coach?
I was inspired by wanting to help players try to reach their basketball goals. For some players, it was about getting playing time. For others, it was to win games and championships. And for others, it was about making it to the professional level. I’ve always enjoyed working with the most driven players over the most talented ones
What did you learn from your experience at Providence that helps you grow as a Head Coach?
In year one at Providence, we had seven seniors and were picked 10th in one of the strongest seasons in the history of the Big East Conference. Although we finished sixth that season and had some great victories, we failed to recruit enough high-character players who were ready to help the program be successful that next season. In my next Head Coach position at Central Michigan, our staff’s first recruiting class consisted of talented players who possessed high character, which in turn resulted in being a championship team by their junior year.
What were a few key implementations you made in completely rebuilding a Central Michigan program with only five winning seasons in the 33 seasons prior to your arrival?
We had two main areas that our staff focused upon. First was recruiting student-athletes that possessed the highest combination of talent and character.
Secondly, we recruited players that would thrive in an exciting up-tempo style of play. We felt that an exciting style would be attractive in the recruiting process, as well as help fill the seats. As a result, we were able to break numerous attendance records, which in turn helped us win more games.
Since stepping away from Central Michigan, what have you been up to?
Last season, I coached a professional basketball team, Flint United, in Michigan. I enjoyed it greatly, as I found that the players in the “semi-pros” are greatly driven to make it to that next level.
This season, I have worked as a color commentator at the collegiate level doing some games for ESPN+.
What advice do you have for coaches who aspire to one day lead their own program?
As a Head Coach, you are going to hear a lot of advice about your program; who you should play, what style you should play, and so on. I think it is good to hear and be open to suggestions while remembering that you have to follow what you believe is the right course. Unless it is a decision that has to be made immediately, I’d take the time to really evaluate any possible changes.