New Northampton Community College men's basketball coach Mike Kaminski might be one of the school's best salesmen.
Kaminski, hired recently to replace Kevin Foley, who stepped down because of family obligations, is not only a big advocate for his basketball program and school, but the community college brand in general.
"In my opinion, the community college level is a sleeping giant," Kaminski said. "You can get a great education and save a few bucks, and at the same time with our program, you can play some good basketball or any other sport we offer."
Kaminski is a 34-year-old Central Catholic graduate who is well known in area gyms. He spent three seasons as an assistant under Charlie McGarvey at Nazareth and seven seasons on Doug Snyder's staff at Allen before working under Foley the past two winters.
He has paid his dues and is looking forward to the opportunity of running his own program, and not surprisingly, a lot of former Lehigh Valley high school products will be on the Spartans roster.
Among them are returners Brent Maron (Salisbury), Tyler Krchnavi (Palisades) and Robert Purnell-Joe (Phillipsburg).
Local newcomers entering the program this season will be Morning Call all-area player Nyreef Jackson (Freedom), R.J. Fletcher (Allen), Josh Kaiser (Easton), Derek Kulp (Northampton) and Astin Jones (Parkland). Jones, of course, had that surprising 16-point effort off the bench against Liberty in a 90-78 victory over the Hurricanes in what was probably the Lehigh Valley Conference boys game of the year.
Non-local players include Malcolm Lyles from Philadelphia, Jahbri Hargrove and Shai Cree Tempson from Norristown.
Kaminski, a teacher at Harrison-Morton Middle School in Allentown, anticipates playing uptempo basketball at NCC just as Foley did.
"I don't think you can slow it down and play games in the 40s and 50s in college basketball and we're going to get up and down the floor and recruit players who can play that way," Kaminski said. "But I'm a defensive-minded guy and we know we will have to dig in and play good defense and get stops as well."
"We play many good teams including Brookdale, the defending junior college national champs. Our schedule is brutal. We play some top-shelf teams that can score, so we better play good defense."
In wasting no time in promoting Kaminski after Foley's resignation, athletic director Troy Tucker said in a release: "I think Mike will give his heart and soul to this program. He has paid his dues as an assistant over the last 12 years to get to this point in his career."
Kaminski thanked Tucker for the opportunity and said that NCC's Spartan Center, where his team plays its home games, is as good as you'll find anywhere.
"It doesn't look like what people might expect a community college to look like," he said. "It's well taken care of and at Northampton we get great support from Mr. Tucker and [assistant athletic director] Adrian Yaguez. It's a great situation for me and a fantastic spot to be in right now."
Kaminski's first season in charge begins on Nov. 2.
FORMER K-KID IS A HUNGARY PRO
Derek Hall, a Northampton High School and Albright College product, recently attained dual-citizenship in Hungary and signed a contract to play for Marso-Vagep NYKK of Hungary's Pro A League.
The 7-foot Hall, who was a member of the Roosevelt's 21st team that won the Tournament of Champions crown last month at Catasauqua High School, was recently on a European tour and got a taste of overseas basketball.
He also received an offer from the pro league in Germany, however, he had already accepted the offer from Hungary.
"I expect a big, physical style of play in Hungary at my position," he said. "So far, these professionals are good at getting away with holding and pushing. It's a new experience, so I will be taking it one day at a time."
Hall said that if you saw him play at Northampton, you might not recognize him now.
"I'm a different player since high school," he said. "I grew 21/2 inches while at college and an inch after college. I'm more of a complete player now that can play inside and I'm comfortable outside. I fit this style of game very well. I just have to continue to be humble and play with confidence. The support I've received from my family, friends and people from Northampton has been amazing."
Hall was the MVP of an iBall pro combined held earlier this year in Pennsylvania.
He finished up in 2012 at Albright where he was named to the D3hoops.com all-Middle Atlantic Region team in 2011-12 as a senior. He was a third-team selection after leading the Commonwealth Conference in rebounding (10.1 rpg) and was third in blocks with 38.
Hall, a three-year starter in college, scored more than 1,000 points at Albright and was a key player on the Lions' Commonwealth title team in 2009-10.
DID YOU KNOW?
Parkland boys basketball coach Andy Stephens said his team's nonleague schedule in the coming season will feature home games against perennial PIAA powers Lower Merion and Chester. Those teams met for the PIAA 4A title last March in Hershey with Lower Merion pulling a surprise. Chester will be coming to Parkland as part of the Lehigh Valley Hoop Group Showcase, which is always the last Sunday of January. … Lauren Loose, the 16-year-old daughter of Lafayette College defensive coordinator John Loose, has been named the Angel 34 Foundation's ambassador for the Valley Preferred Wheels for Hope. Lauren has been battling cancer since birth and has been an inspiration to all those who have gotten to know her. Lauren's First and Goal, which began in 2004, has raised $1.5 million for those battling childhood cancer. This past year's Lauren's First and Goal camp set a record by raising more than $104,000.