James Kane coaches from the bench during a game for Murray State on Jan. 26, 2017. Photo by Dave Winder, Murray State.

Anthony Grant a mentor for Dayton assistant coach

James Kane coaching with Grant for third time

Kane hasn’t even had time to explore the Dayton dining scene in first weeks as an assistant coach with the Dayton Flyers.

“The only restaurants I know of are Milano’s, Coco’s and Outback,” Kane said Wednesday with a laugh.

The new coaches on Anthony Grant’s staff have been busy, to say the least. They have been focused on getting to know the current players and recruiting new ones this spring.

The latest addition, 6-foot-9 forward Obadiah Toppin, signed Tuesday. He’s the 13th scholarship player. The 2017-18 team is complete, barring any unexpected changes.

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Kane, a 2005 University of Florida graduate, didn’t have to spend time getting to know his boss. He met Grant during his junior year in Gainesville when Grant was an assistant coach under Billy Donovan.

“I was playing intramurals,” Kane said. “We won the 3-on-3 intramural championship. The winner was going to have the opportunity to play coach Donovan and coach Grant and (assistant coach) Major Parker. So we played. The games were competitive. I think it went to best-of-three if I remember correctly. We were fortunate enough to win. That’s when the relationship really started.”

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Grant dunked on Kane, so it wasn’t a total loss for the team of coaches.

“If I remember correctly, it was a dump-down pass on the baseline,” Kane said, “and he tomahawked it right on me. I was late on my rotation.”

While Kane’s connection Grant and also to Darren Hertz, a longtime assistant coach at Florida now on Grant’s staff at Dayton, started there, he took his first steps in the coaching world under Carolyn Peck, the women’s coach at Florida from 2002-07.

Kane, a native of Oakland Park, Fla., could have played Division II basketball. Instead he decided to go to Florida on an academic scholarship. He always knew he wanted to get into coaching. He played under four different high school coaches, so he didn’t have one coaching figure early in his life who stood out. He found that coach in Grant.

“He’s obviously my mentor,” Kane said. “He’s the reason I’m in this business. He’s the reason I had the opportunity to start coaching.”

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After graduating from Florida, Kane worked as an intern in basketball operations and scouting analysis with the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2005-06 season. When Virginia Commonwealth hired Grant in 2006, following Florida’s first national championship season, Kane joined him as a graduate assistant. He moved into a role as video coordinator for the next two seasons.

Kane followed Grant to Alabama in 2009, still working as a video coordinator. In 2011, Murray State’s Steve Prohm hired Kane as assistant coach. Kane spent six seasons with the Racers, the last two under Matt McMahon after Prohm left for Iowa State.

Through all that time, Kane kept in touch with Grant.

“He molded me for Murray State,” Kane said. “Now I’m just fortunate to be back with him. He’s a man of character. He’s very intelligent, very methodical in his thinking to where he’s two steps ahead. When he makes a decision, he knows what’s going on around him, and it’s something that’s helped me grow in my coaching career.”

»RELATED: Patience pays off for Flyers coaching staff

Kane’s mom, Nelly, a native of Colombia who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., urged him to take the job at Dayton.

“She adores Anthony Grant,” Kane said. “When this opportunity came up here, her answer was, ‘You better go, son.’”

Leaving Murray State wasn’t easy. The Racers finished 31-2 in Kane’s first season and were 29-6 in 2014-15.

“Murray State’s a special place,” Kane said. Obviously, I always wanted to stay loyal to the school that gave me my first opportunity to get on the floor and recruit. I wanted to stay loyal to Anthony Grant as well. It was tough to leave with the six years of relationships with the community and the fans and the players and the coaching staff, but I’m excited for this new challenge. It’s a new chapter of my life. I’m excited to get it started.”

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