Kissi takes over CEBL’s Knighthawks
Former Brock men’s basketball coach Charles Kissi, shown with the NBA championship trophy, is the new head coach and GM of the Guelph Nighthawks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League. Kissi will continue on the coaching staff with Raptors 905.
The Guelph Nighthawks have added a familiar face to replace a familiar face as the head coach and general manager of the Canadian Elite Basketball League club.
Mired in a tie for last place in the six-team league with a 3-9 record, Guelph has replaced Tarry Upshaw with Charles Kissi. Kissi is the former head coach of the Brock men’s basketball team while Upshaw coaches the Ridley College boys prep team and is the co-founder of the Niagara Tigers AAU boys travel basketball program.
Kissi, the offensive coordinator with Raptors 905, the developmental team of the Toronto Raptors, will join Guelph in Edmonton for its Thursday night game against the Stingers. Kissi will be arriving from Las Vegas where he has been helping out with the Raptors entry in the NBA Summer League.
“Coach Kissi is a proven winner at every level he has coached. Charles transformed the Brock University men’s basketball program to a perennial powerhouse in the OUA, has been an prominent mentor to the development of players on both the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905, is a dedicated coach on and off the court and brings experience with a number of players on the current Nighthawks roster,” Guelph president Cameron Kusch said, in a press release. “Our core values align with Kissi’s vision for Nighthawks basketball. He is a coach that will demand accountability and professionalism but in a structured environment that will allow our players to thrive.”
It was an easy decision for Kissi to take the position in addition to retaining his duties with Raptors 905.
“It’s an opportunity to continue to work on my craft as head coach and get better and that is probably the most intriguing piece,” he said.
It’s also a chance for Brock’s former manager of basketball operations to take a whirl at being a general manager.
“Even though it’s only half a season, it is an opportunity to get to know what it is like to run a team and put one together,” he said. “It is an incredible opportunity.”
Guelph sits three games out of the final playoff spot with eight games remaining in the CEBL season, but Kissi feels his new team can still make a playoff push.
“As a coach, you believe you can make it happen, but we will have to take it one game at a time,” he said. “No matter where I have been, I have always been a coach that walks to the top of the hill, walks back down and then climbs my way back up.
“We will take it one step at a time, one day at a time and see what we can do.”
Kissi has not yet seen his team in person but he has watched video of the team’s last two games and has watched hundreds of clips of his players in action.
“It’s like cramming for a test right now and I am trying to learn as much as I can,” he said. “I am excited about it.”
His first step will be to meet with the team’s staff.
“I will get to learn a little bit more what is going on and where they are at and the next morning I will meet with the players and go from there.”
Kissi isn’t worried about jumping into the head coach’s role Thursday night.
“What better way to have it? Let’s figure it out. I am coaching basketball, not curing cancer,” he said. “Let’s take on the challenge and do it.”
Kissi is a fan of the CEBL.
“It’s a great league and there are good people involved in it.”
Prior to joining Guelph, Kissi has been doing anything and everything with the Raptors’ Summer League squad.
“It’s just helping out and learning and developing like everybody else here.”
As a member of the Toronto Raptors organization, Kissi was able to share in the joy and the excitement of the team’s first NBA championship.
“The parade was awesome, especially being from Toronto and being a part of it,” he said. “It had pretty cool significance for me personally. You are part fan too because you have watched the team from inception and it was pretty cool to see the trophy and hold the trophy.”
He felt a part of the triumph.
“In anything, it’s about the players and the main staff but everybody in that organization played a role in supporting the ultimate goal of a championship,” he said. “I believe that, they believe that and everyone believes that.”
Kissi has no plans to leave the Raptors organization.
“I am making it work because it is a big development opportunity,” he said. “Nick Nurse is always talking about head coaching experience and trying to get as much of it as you can.
“It’s a great opportunity and a challenge to help the Guelph program and the league.”