On the same day he admitted "reaching the pinnacle of success," Kurt Keener also grabbed a coaching milestone.
On Thursday morning, the Gilbert Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.)
boys basketball coach was selected to lead the West in the 42nd annual McDonald's All-American Game on March 27 in Atlanta.
Later Thursday, Keener claimed his 800th coaching victory with a 61-38 win over Coronado (Scottsdale).
One day, two major accomplishments. Can't beat that.
But according to Gilbert Christian athletic director Adam Rasmussen, Keener can't be beat in terms of qualities one would want in a coach. Or a human being.
His current and former players, which include Chris Webber and Shane Battier, all agree.
"It's the principle of the harvest: you reap what you sow," Gilbert Christian Athletic Director Adam Rasmussen told Paul Helmers of azpreps365.com
. "He's definitely just sewn kindness and strength and goodness into this world, and we are receiving the benefits."
Keener earned the bulk of his victories in Michigan where he led Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.)
to nine state titles in 35 years. His impact on Michigan high school basketball was immense, as proven by a congratulatory note Thursday from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
Webber and Battier were among many who contributed to a video tribute Keener received on Thursday. Rasmussen and the Gilbert Christian community presented him with a giant plaque with "Kurt Keener. 800 High School wins."
All was more than a little overwhelming for the humble coach, who has led Gilbert Christian to two state titles in four-plus seasons. His Knights are 18-6 this season and 110-33 during Keener's tenure.
"I don't particularly like this kind of fanfare," Keener told Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic
. "I told someone, I'll be glad when this day is over and be back to being a basketball coach, chasing a dream."
He never imagined all this fanfare, especially so late in his career.
"The milestone is something that encompasses a whole lot of people, the coaches, the players, a whole lifetime of memories," he told Helmers. "McDonald's is kind of the pinnacle of success. I've been there watching my players play, for a number of years I was actually part of the selection committee. When I moved out to Arizona, I kind of lost touch with them and thought that ship had sailed. To get that call and say that I was selected ... it's going to be a good time."
Every day is a good day with Keener, senior guard Nick Pappas
told Obert. The team's third-leading scorer called Keener "the best high school coach in America."
"Coach means the world to me," Pappas told Obert. "He's the reason I came to Gilbert Christian. He's the best man you can ever meet, the most knowledgeable man, and the most humble man."