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Hoop Kings nab ‘perfect’ coach

It wasn’t an easy job finding a head coach for the RDC Kings basketball program.

Not that they didn’t have any qualified applications, it was that they almost had too many.

In the end RDC director of athletics Keith Hansen feels he found the perfect man in Clayton Pottinger.

“Any time you get a guy who was captain of the (University of Alberta) Golden Bears when they won their first national championship, that speaks volumes as to his ability as a player,” said Hansen. “Add to that he has a solid resume and a master’s degree in coaching.

“Everyone we talked to about him could say nothing wrong. He impressed as a person, with his knowledge and work ethic. We feel he’ll be a great asset to our program and the school. Plus we feel we’re a good fit for him.”

Pottinger takes over from Stef Labrecque, who coached last season while Craig Behan was on a leave of absence. When Behan announced he wasn’t returning, the job came open.

Pottinger, who grew up in Edmonton, spent the last year in Vancouver teaching high school and coaching at Douglas College. But he wanted more from the coaching and academic side.

“I was looking for a place like RDC where the school is serious about their athletics where I could be a full time coach and also serious on the academic side,” he said during a telephone interview. “I believe Red Deer is better than most CIS jobs and most colleges. I’m excited about getting it.”

Pottinger played two years of high school ball in Leduc before taking his Grade 12 at Ross Sheppard. He moved to the Bears after high school and also spent some time coaching at camps and with the club programs.

“Overall I’ve been coaching over 20 years and seriously for the past decade,” said the 39-year-old.

His first serious head coaching position was with The Kings University College in Edmonton in 2003. He left TKUC in 2007 to join the Bears as an assistant coach and spent three years there before moving to Vancouver. During his time in Edmonton he also was an assistant coach and director of player development with the Edmonton Energy professional team and was an assistant coach with the Canadian junior national team in 2009.

“Besides his basketball knowledge he also knows the league,” said Hansen.

“That helps,” agreed Pottinger, who didn’t get an opportunity to coach against the Kings at RDC.

“The only time I was there was for the league (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) championships. But I did see a lot of gasoline alley driving back and forth between Edmonton and Calgary,” he said with a laugh.

The tough part about taking over the Kings, will be a lack of recruiting time. But that doesn’t worry him.

“This year it’s like a step forward,” he said. “Last year we moved to Vancouver on Aug. 23 and we opened camp a week later and I didn’t know any of the players. This year I have a little time and coach Labrecque and coach Behan have a good nucleus of players returning and did some recruiting. I’ve been in contact with players every day and I’m sure the team will be competitive next year.”

Hansen believes so as well.

“I’m sure the returnees will be impressed with him and we could have eight guys back which is a good start,” he said. “As well he has some other ideas as well.”

“I have some contacts in Ontario and B.C. and I would like to make a run at the top kids in Central Alberta,” he said. “I want to continue to push the program and push it right to the top.”

Pottinger will be moving to Red Deer after the high school year is over in June.

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