Ashland High School has hired University of Great Falls assistant coach Keithan Gregg as the Grizzlies' next head boys basketball coach, replacing Jeff Schlecht after one year at the helm.
Gregg, a two-sport star in both high school and college, will be Ashland's third boys basketball coach in as many years and second since Larry Kellems resigned following the 2012-13 season.
A former state champion tennis player who also led his high school basketball team to an undefeated season, Gregg played tennis at Eastern Washington University and basketball at Great Falls (Mont.) before beginning his coaching career there in 2009.
He was chosen by AHS from a final pool of seven applicants following a Skype interview.
"We are absolutely thrilled to hire someone with such a strong background as Keithan Gregg," Ashland High athletic director Karl Kemper said. "His knowledge level and preparedness for a high school head coaching position are impressive. We have some wonderful young men in the program and there is a growing interest among our kids to keep working toward becoming more competitive.
"We are excited about the energy, passion and high expectations that coach Gregg will bring to lead them to fulfilling their potential."
Gregg, whose first name is pronounced "Keatan", takes over a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2009-10 and has gone 10-34 over the last two seasons. Schlecht's only season was a relative success, however, with Ashland winning nine games (9-14), an eight-win improvement over the 1-20 season of 2012-13.
What are Gregg's plans for the Ashland boys basketball program? To increase its entertainment value, for one.
"I'm not going to try to come in and change everything," he said, "but I also know that changes need to be made in order to create a successful and winning program. I'm going to bring in an up-tempo style of basketball based on fundamentals and letting kids explore different avenues that will make for fun basketball. When basketball's fun the school rallies around you and it creates a very nice, exciting environment to play in."
Gregg led the NAIA in assists per game and set the Great Falls single-game assist record (20) as a freshman in 2005-06. He was also a Frontier Conference academic all-star and a three-year team captain. At Cut Bank High School (Mont.), Gregg was a three-time all-state selection and Class "B" Most Valuable Player in 2003. Gregg was also a four-time state singles champion in tennis and played two seasons of collegiate tennis at Eastern Washington before transferring back to Great Falls.
Gregg said he has a few friends in the area and was excited about the possibility of living in or near Ashland when he learned that AHS was looking for a new boys basketball coach.
"I've been out there four or five times and I fell in love with the community," he said. "I've been to a lot of Southern Oregon University games and really loved the way the community supported the athletes there."
Gregg has a Bachelors degree in elementary education and will be looking for work as an elementary teacher after he moves to Ashland later this month.
Gregg replaces Schlecht, the former AHS principal who guided the Grizzlies to a Class 5A state play-in game in his only season as head coach.
"We saw definite growth and improvement at all three levels under (Schlecht's) guidance," Kemper said. "His love of Ashland High School and kids made a difference, giving the next coach a strong foundation on which to build. "¦He worked tirelessly to make sure that the boys had a positive experience and challenged them to be the best people they could be. We were fortunate to have him at the helm and he will be missed."
Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com.