Nations the pick as NKHS hoops coach

POULSBO — This winter, Aaron Nations wants to prove that you can learn a lot from the slow end of a bench.

POULSBO — This winter, Aaron Nations wants to prove that you can learn a lot from the slow end of a bench.

Nations, an assistant coach at Stanwood High School in Snohomish County, has been selected as the new head coach of the North Kitsap High School boys basketball team.

Nations was selected for the position from two finalists. He will also teach English at NKHS.

His official hiring still awaits school board approval.

By his own admission, Nations wasn’t a star player at Marysville-Pilchuck High School — which took fifth in state during his senior year — but carefully observed coach Mike Lowery and his practices.

Nations got more chances to watch successful basketball teams beginning in 1997, as he became an assistant at Stanwood, which finished in sixth place in Washington State twice.

Now he wants to build similar success in North Kitsap.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” said Nations. “But from what I hear, there’s a commitment by players and the community to work hard and get it done.”

Members of the hiring committee were impressed by Nations’ organization skills and his emphasis on reaching out to the community.

Colton Bangs, who played guard last year for the Vikings, served on the committee. He said he was impressed by a detailed plan Nations gave for building the program year by year.

Bangs said his decision was swayed by the fact that Nations asked probing questions about the players and program.

“He actually asked about players, what they’re like,” Bangs said. “It was evident he was interested in serving the student-athletes.”

Athletics Coordinator Scott McKay was also impressed.

“He had a strong focus on building relationships with players, with the basketball community, and even the junior high those programs and parents,” McKay said.

Nations graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck in 1989, then attended Everett Community College and Western Washington University, from which he graduated in 1997.

He has been a varsity assistant, junior varsity and sophomore coach with Stanwood. Stanwood went 11-11 during the 2003 regular season before losing twice at districts.

The team earned back-to-back sixth place finishes at state in 2001 and 2002, and were led by University of Florida-bound point guard Ryan Appleby and All-State forward Marcus Steele. Nations has also helped coordinate the Western Washington University summer basketball camps.

He said he wants to implement an up-tempo, high-pressure defense.

The defense may be up-tempo, but the sidelines will remain steady.

“I’m pretty calm on the sidelines,” Nations said. “I want my players to model myself. I want them to have composure late in games.”

He takes over a Vikings team that went 2-17 overall last year in a Narrows League that features some of the best talent in the state, including Bremerton forward Marvin Williams and South Kitsap post player Jake Beitinger.

Players will attend at least one team camp this summer, and maybe a tournament as well.