Ryan King returns as Clackamas boys basketball coach
Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.
It's more than just lyrics to The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," it might be the new theme song for the Clackamas boys basketball team.
Clackamas announced last week that Ryan King — who previously coached the Cavaliers from 2012-17 — would return as head coach for the 2022-23 season after five years away from the program.
During his first run at the Cavs' helm, King led Clackamas to a 98-37 overall record, won two Mt. Hood Conference titles, took the Cavs to three Class 6A state tournaments and advanced to the 2017 state championship game.
King replaces Cameron Mitchell, who led the program from 2017-22. Mitchell took Clackamas to a 70-47 overall record in his five years, winning one MHC title and one state tournament berth.
King, 47, said he's excited to be back.
"I mean, it feels natural in a sense," he said. "It's exciting. It's comfortable for me. I've been here before so I know the school. I know some of the people in the school. I know the facilities and I know some of the coaches, which is nice, so that's an easy transition."
After taking five years away from being a head coach to spend more time with his two sons, King said that when the Clackamas job came open, he was ready and excited to apply.
"I just knew I had enjoyed it and I knew I still had the juices to do it and it was like 'OK. I can definitely do this again,'" he said. "So when the job opened up, I was like, 'Well, that works out. That would work. I can do this.'"
• 1996-2005 Clackamas, freshman coach, head JV coach, varsity assistant
• 2005-06 Putnam, varsity assistant
• 2006-2012 Molalla, head coach
• 2012-17 Clackamas, head coach
• 2020-22 Lakeridge, varsity assistant
King, a Clackamas resident who is in his 16th year as a teacher at Molalla High School — he served as Indians head coach for five years before his first stint with the Cavaliers — said he's glad to have the summer to strengthen ties with players he already knows and establish them with those he doesn't know yet.
"I know (some of) the kids, but I don't know all the kids so it's been nice meeting a bunch of (them) this summer and trying to get kids excited about basketball again," King said.
The 2021-22 Cavaliers went 9-7 and finished fifth in the MHC, 12-13 overall and lost to Roosevelt in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs. Clackamas graduated 10 seniors from last year's team and brings back just one all-leaguer — senior guard Garrett Strube — for 2022-23.
"They lost a lot of seniors last year … so there were just three kids … that played some varsity minutes," King said. "Besides (Strube), it's a lot of fresh faces, a lot of inexperienced kids, which is good for us.
"Coming in, I mean, it's what you want. You're trying to establish some things and get things going, you know, kind of teach your philosophy a little bit. So having some new blood and fresh faces and new personalities is a good thing."
Looking ahead, King said he's excited about working with the youth program in the area and extending the reach of the high school program to Clackamas' younger players. He said he believes that work will be key to his program's future success.
"That's one of our main focuses, getting down to our youth and connecting with our youth again and getting that going," King said. "We want to get down to our kindergarten kids all the way up and build those kids and get to connect with those kids and get those kids in the gym and get those kids seeing our high school kids and seeing our coaches and that kind of stuff. So that's been an emphasis of ours, just trying to get that going."
Once the 2021-22 season starts, King promises that the Cavaliers will play lockdown man-to-man defense and push the ball on offense, a recipe he believes will help get the school's best athletes on the court as Cavaliers.
"It depends on your clientele, obviously … but we play up-tempo. Our philosophy is we're going to make you play hard man-to-man defense and get after it," he said. "And then, after that, we're able to get out and push the basketball. We'll push pace and put pressure on the on the other team.
"We're gonna ask you to work really hard on the defensive end, and then we're gonna let you go out and play on the offensive end a little bit. That's fun."
In all his efforts — and those of his staff — King promises to keep the focus on building young men.
"It's about the kids at the end of the day, and making connection with those kids and building that family atmosphere," he said. "That's kind of what we've prided ourselves on before when we were here and we're hoping to … build that back up."
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