Image courtesy of Rivals
To get a better understanding of freshman point guard / YouTube sensation Kiwi Gardner, I reached out to Adam Desautels of Westwind Preparatory Academy. Adam is the assistant prep team coach there, and saw firsthand the ankle breaking that probably went on in coaching Gardner last season on their way to a state championship . Many thanks to him for the taking the time to talk about his former player.
Friarblog: Ever since Kiwi committed, he has been very active active on Twitter and extremely engaging with PC fans. He seems to have a great attitude and passion for basketball. What was it like coaching him?
Adam Desautels: Kiwi does have a great attitude, and has always shown his love for the game. He is always very engaged in what is going on, is constantly talking strategy with his coaches, and communicating with his team. While he sometimes can be frustrating with his decisions, for the most part, he is like having another coach on the floor because of how he understands the game and the situations we are in. He kept us in a lot of games on his own. I think he will win PC fans over with his passion for basketball, and his energy that he brings to the court.
FB: During the course of the season at Westwind, where did you see his biggest improvement in?
AD: On court, shooting. Kiwi has always been able to handle the ball and get to the rim. He shot the ball very well as the season went on. Off the court, maturity. Kiwi really grew up a lot here at Westwind as a student and as a person. He has grown into a mature young man, and has channeled that personality that he is showing on Twitter.
FB: What is one aspect of his game you would have hoped he focused on in between playing at Westwind and suiting up for the Friars?
AD: I really hope he has focused on his strength between WWP and PC. The college game is a grind, and you’ve got to be built to withstand it. Kiwi needs to hit the weightroom before he suits up.
FB: We’ve seen all sorts of crazy moves on YouTube as it looks like Kiwi has incredible ball handling and passing skills. What can we expect from him on the defensive end?
AD: Kiwi is an incredible on-ball defender. Since he is so quick, he is able to keep nearly anyone in front of him. He is a pest to opposing point guards and wears them out. As good as Kiwi is with the ball, he is a better defender. He was usually good for causing 4-6 turnovers per game for us.
FB: With a new coach at Providence, it remains to be seen what kind of offense will be run this season. When at Fairfield, Cooley’s teams often played to a much slower pace. What kind of offense was run while Kiwi was the floor general? How do you think he will adjust if things are slowed down?
AD: Kiwi likes to run, and that is where he is at his best. However, every team gets in situations where they must run sets. Kiwi can set his team up, and get the ball where it needs to go. I wouldn’t be worried about adjusting. He will always try and push in transition though. I don’t see him changing that.
FB: The Friars currently have a junior point guard in Vincent Council who has already played a lot of BIG EAST minutes and will get the majority of the playing time. How do you see Kiwi contributing off the bench?
AD: Kiwi will bring instant energy. If PC looks sluggish, look for Kiwi to come into the game because he is never low on energy.
FB: What was the best play you saw Kiwi pull off in person?
AD: I once saw Kiwi hunt an opponent down, tap the ball out from behind, start the break, and he used a back cut to finish on the other end with a dunk. I had to check to make sure I’d really seen him do all that.