After coaching in the travel ranks for 10 seasons, Frank Kiser and his partners stepped out this year and formed the new Ocean State Panthers.
“Our goals are really pretty simple. No. 1, we want to help kids improve their abilities in the game of basketball. And, for the players who want to compete at the next level, we want to help them find a good fit and hopefully help them get some financial assistance with college through basketball,” Kiser said.
One of the first moves the Rhode Island based club made was to sign up for the elite Deep South Classic. The 19th Deep South Classic will be played from April 21-24 in Raleigh, N.C., and it will once again be held at the magnificent Raleigh Convention Center. The entire event will be played under one roof, with action flowing on 20 courts.
“This will be my first trip to the Deep South Classic, and we’re pretty excited,” Kiser said. “A lot of the top clubs in New England go to the Deep South Classic, and they had nothing but good things to say about the event.”
The Panthers will be paced this summer by a pair of post players from the Class of 2017. Grace Coutu is a 6-2 power forward, and Casandra Duda is a 6-4 post player.
“Grace is a great shot blocker and a strong rebounder, but what sets her apart is her ability to shoot from the outside,” Kiser said. “She makes a couple of three’s per game for us, and she can compete inside.
“Casandra is a very good defender who works very hard underneath. She is very strong in the post, she rebounds well and she blocks shots. Casandra also has a lot of good post moves, and I think she is headed for a big summer. She has basketball in her blood — her father played on the ’87 Final Four team at Providence under Rick Pitino.”
The Panthers also expect strong summers from Gabriella Decomo (2017, 5-9, G) and Christina Kiser (2018, 5-8 G), the coach’s daughter.
“Gabriella is a scorer. She shoots well from the outside, and she can go to the basket,” Kiser said. “She is just a very good offensive player. Christina is an all-around player. She has a good outside shot, but she’s not afraid to attack the rim. Christina is a good ball handler, and she draws a couple of charges every game.”