Guelph Nighthawks president Cameron Kusch has been named the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL)’s first-ever Executive of the Year.
Kusch made the announcement on Twitter and Instagram Aug. 20, 2019 — two days before the inaugural CEBL Awards ceremony in Saskatoon.
“With the executive talent level across the board in this league I’m honoured to receive the award,” said Kush in a tweet that linked to a photo of the award on his Instagram account.
CEBL president and chief operating officer Lee Grenier tweeted his congratulations.
“Well deserved Cam,” Grenier said.
Guelph finished fifth out of six teams in the inaugural CEBL regular season with at 6-14 record, and did not qualify for the league’s four-team championship tournament this week in Saskatoon.
The team parted ways with head coach and GM Tarry Upshaw on July 1, with Kusch saying the vision he and Upshaw had for the club “were not aligned, and ultimately held the team back from achieving greater success on the court.
“When we launched the Nighthawks just over one year ago I had personally promised a fast-paced, exciting and winning brand of basketball here in Guelph,” Kusch said in a statement at the time.
“Our hope is that today’s move is the next step in committing to that promise for our fan base.”
Guelph assistant Juan Nunez took over as interim head coach, but a week later the Nighthawks announced a high-profile replacement: Charles Kissi, who spent the 2018 season as an assistant with Raptors 905 of the NBA G League.
Kissi is also a former head coach of the Brock University men’s team, leading the club to a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Canadian university championship tournament.
He left Brock in 2018 with a 107-72 record over five seasons. Kissi is also a former head coach of the Ryerson University women’s team, guiding them to consecutive OUA East Final Four appearances.
Before that, Kissi played at McMaster University and spent 10 years as an officer with the Toronto Police Service.
Guelph had a 3-7 record after Upshaw’s firing but show glimpses of promise, including a 125-115 win over the Saskatchewan Rattlers in the final game of its regular season.
Kusch graduated from Brock with a degree in sports management in 2001 and has worked for Golf Canada and the CFL’s Grey Cup. He also managed sales and client services for BC Place in Vancouver, and oversaw the stadium’s 18-month, $500 million renovation.
His executive role with the Nighthawks appears to be his first with a major basketball team.
Several other awards, as well as the CEBL All-Star Team, are scheduled to be unveiled Thursday at 7 p.m. Central Time.
Edmonton Stingers guard Xavier Moon and Hamilton Honey Badgers guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. have been nominated for Player of the Year.
Guillaume Payen-Boucard, a forward with the Niagara River Lions and Jordan Baker, a Stingers guard/forward, are competing for Canadian of the Year.