Crandall Fulfills Dream at Academy

Former Arizona State Basketball player Kenny Crandall yearned to be a coach when his playing days with the maroon and gold were over. His wish may have come a little sooner than expected, and in an unlikely environment.

Kenny Crandall played in coach Rob Evans' initial season in 1998. Following a two-year mission in Oregon, he returned to the maroon and gold and played for the following three years. During his last few months of his Arizona State career, he and then assistant head coach Russ Pennell started to devise the concept that later came to life as the Arizona Premier Basketball Academy (APBA).

"He (Pennell) talked to me about training kids and starting the academy after I graduated from ASU," said Crandall in an email interview to Devils Digest. "So we met with a few other people and ended up with four partners and began training at all of the local Mountainside Fitness Clubs. As a staff, we all had the same dreams and goals of coaching kids and opening our own basketball facility, and here we are! Now we have a place for everyone. We have club basketball, leagues, camps, tournaments, and of course our academy training classes."

One may think that the organization's title implies that only high caliber and committed basketball players would benefit from the academy's events. However, Crandall stated that his organization's activities are diverse in nature. "We cater to all types of kids," he explained. "We have so much flexibility in our gym that we can train beginners and those who are experienced and serious about the game. We want to help each player be the best they can be, and if they want to pursue it, help them to get a scholarship." Crandall added that the academy has been able to foster positive relations with both AAU & High School coaches in the valley, and will continue to build strong relations with every coach in the state. "We have had great response and support from everyone," he said.

Through the game of basketball, according to Crandall, many other feats can be achieved. "Our main goal is to teach kids the proper way to play the game of basketball," he stated. "We want to make each player reach their full potential regardless of their physical abilities. In the end we want to help kids get college scholarships so they can further improve their education and dreams if that is something they desire. We also want to be mentors to these kids and teach them important life lessons and skills to help them be successful in life such as discipline, hard work, commitment, and respect."

The next several weeks will see a flurry of activity with the APBA:

On August 5-7 and August 12-14 the NIKE AZ Best Showcase will host Arizona's Top 100 high school underclassmen, as well as, junior high school boys as well as girls. Those interested in participating should call 480-329-6960.

On August 20 - 21 the Summer Sizzler for boys ages 10u / 12u will take place, while the Back to School Thriller for boys and girls ages 14u / 15u will be held on August 27 – 28. For more information contact Justin Peterson at 602-740-8264.

The Arizona Premier Basketball Academy club tryouts for boys will be held Monday and Tuesday, August 15-16, while the girls' tryouts will take place Wednesday and Thursday, August 17-18. For more information on tryouts please contact Russ Pennell at 480-633-6097

Finally the APBA league starts on September 12th and ends November 5th. Teams welcomed as well as individual players. Deadline for registration is August 23. For more information on play contact Kenny Crandall at 480-633-6097.

the Arizona Premier Basketball Academy is located at 1090 N. Fiesta in Gilbert. More information on the academy can be found online at

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