New NCCC assistant

Kenny Eddy coaches his Pratt Skyline team in March at the State tournament in Bramlage Coliseum on the campus of Kansas

State University. 

ROBERT MAGOBET

Neosho County Community College Lady Panthers have bolstered their women’s basketball staff.

The Lady Panthers officially hired Kenny Eddy as an assistant coach after NCCC’s June Board of Trustees meeting. Eddy joins the coaching staff of head coach JJ Davis, honorary associate head coach Mark Childers, assistant coach Anthony Johnson and student assistant coach Korey Billy.

Eddy, 30, said he wanted to come to Neosho.

“I’ve had a pretty good relationship with JJ for a handful of years. We met at a clinic down in Dallas, and then we went to several clinics together after that – me, him and coach (Dustin) Fox over at Chanute High School – so I’ve been in touch with them for a while and I told JJ after a few years that I was hoping to make the jump to college basketball, and he just happened to have an opening this year, so I applied for the job and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Eddy said. 

The hiring process wasn’t long and drawn out. Davis used three weeks in June to speak to around 15 candidates. But once phone, Zoom and face-to-face interviews culminated, Eddy rose above all.

“He’s a phenomenal defensive mind, and his work ethic is something that I don’t think we’ve had in the past, just his countless hours that he’s put in building his program in high school, so that work ethic alone had me convinced that when you can build something from nothing in high school and make it prominent, that translates to college – being able to jump in and do what you’re supposed to do,” Davis said. “We did countless reference checks and background, but it doesn’t take long to look at Kenny’s social media, and know that he is what the Neosho way represents.

“The reason why I chose this guy is because of that saying, ‘Iron Sharpens Iron;’ that’s what Kenny represents. For the first time in my career, we hired another lion. We were able to persuade a young man that has a lion personality that really fits in this program. Any time you can get iron to sharpen iron or you can put two lions in a pack, your program is going to get better regardless. ... He’s a love-first guy. You need to love to work hard. Finding another guy like that, that’s me in a nutshell.”

Davis was first enraptured by Eddy three years ago at a coach’s clinic in Dallas. At the time – and all the way up until being hired as an NCCC assistant coach – Eddy was the head boys coach of Pratt Skyline High School, where he went 59-9 in his tenure, including a State tournament appearance this past year (2019-20) as a No. 1 seed.

Davis and Eddy have kept in touch. When NCCC played Pratt Community College in Pratt on Jan. 4, Eddy was in attendance and mentioned to Davis that if there was ever an opportunity, a chance at NCCC would be much appreciated.

That chance appeared when former NCCC assistant coach Steven Gilbert found an opportunity to be a head coach at Colorado Northwestern CC. Gilbert left directly following the Lady Panthers’ historical season: NCCC went 13-17 and advanced in the Region 6 playoffs for the first time since the mid-90s. 

Davis said Eddy’s defensive philosophies mix right in with the eight-year head coach’s mentality.

“He has a tremendous amount of knowledge in workouts, the weight room, he has a tremendous amount of knowledge in defense, and he has a tremendous amount of knowledge in basketball IQ, which are three things that can help me relieve some of the duties that I was doing that he can get a hold and grow it in a way that the Neosho way should look like in those areas,” Davis continued. “I’m a huge serve guy. If you talk about the Neosho way, you know that serve is it, but we want to grow it in other ways, too. What’s cool is, in the time that I’ve been here, we’ve had three core values: serve, honor and compete. And since Kenny has been here, he’s added now one of the core values. Being able to be in the now, working right now. What have you done to get better right now? Not in the past or in the future, but right now. And I think that’s something to be said about a young coach being able to add a core value to a program that’s been established.”

The new assistant coach was working that addition, even while still in Pratt. Eddy and Davis have developed a workout program that is set up for results during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the workout centers on a point system that holds players, coaches and families accountable.

Before making his way from Pratt to Chanute in August, Eddy is the head coach of an AAU team (Western Kansas Elite) that is composed of top high school players in the region. He has been the coach for the 17 and younger group the last four years. 

But Eddy hasn’t always been surrounded with the most talent. When he started as an assistant basketball coach at Pratt in 2014, the team was consistently in the single digits for total wins on the year. But as head coach the last three years, the program had back-to-back 20-win seasons – the most wins in the school’s history for back-to-back seasons – and never lost a league game in two years in a row, won the Heart of the Plains League the last two years, and has developed a few All-State players.

Before all the high school coaching success, Eddy graduated from Ellsworth High School in 2008 before going on to play college basketball at Sterling College 2008-10.

Still, Eddy said he isn’t basking in old glory.

“I hope to bring winning habits every single day, building a winning mentality to go along with what JJ already has in place, and building on what he’s been doing there over the last several years,” he said.

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