It’s been a whirlwind season for first-year Faith Baptist Christian Academy basketball coach Keith Graves.
Formerly a coach at Life Christian Academy in Albany, Graves came to the Crusaders to take over the school’s B team, which plays for the Georgia Christian Athletes Association, and their national team, which competes in the National Association of Christian Athletes Conference.
With five games left before the national title tournament in Tennessee at the end of February, Graves’ national team is sitting pretty with a 28-13 overall mark and a 7-0 conference record.
Playing at the national level has meant taking the team to Las Vegas, California, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky. It also means his team has played against some of the top 100 teams in the nation.
Graves said his team is multi-talented and also multi-national. His players come from France, Turkey and Nigeria to play American basketball and for a chance to attain high-school and college educations.
“One of my players just signed to play for Sheridan College and two signed with South Georgia State,” he said, emphasizing that the boys work hard. The coach said he requires the players to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average and the team, overall, carries a 3.8 at the moment.
He also wants to set the record straight when it comes to rumors regarding recruitment.
“We have an international-studies program that a lot of kids know about and they enroll to our school through that program,” the coach said, adding it is against NACA and GCAA regulations to recruit players.
Graves runs a tight ship, including two-a-days and many 5 a.m. workout sessions before class.
Last year, the national team, under coach Matthew Sellars, went to the national title game and ended the season as the state runners-up, according to Graves.
“We should be better,” he said of this year’s team. “And I want to win it.”
Among his top players are small forward junior Dhyromi Maxwell, power forward senior Christian Sunda, center senior Olagesin Moyosore and senior guard Malik Jordan.