When Canada Basketball announced the 2019 inductees into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame last week, long-time fans of the sport in B.C. would have noticed a familiar name.
Howard Kelsey, a two-time Olympian and former Point Grey High School star, was among the names being recognized for their contributions to the sport in Canada. Kelsey, who now calls West Vancouver home, couldn't be happier.
“It’s the highest honour I’ve had in my playing career since high school, and it’s the highest honour there is for basketball in our country,” said Kelsey. “It’s huge, and it’s brought nothing but more benefits since it was announced.”
Referring to Kelsey as a star in high school may be a bit of an understatement: he still holds the highest all-time career scoring average in B.C. high school basketball history, at 37.5 points per game. He’s also one of the few players to be selected to the national team from high school, scouted by coaching legend Jack Donohue.
“He picked me out of high school in my senior year and put me on the Team Canada conveyor belt, of which I spent the next 11 years playing for Canada, and in the ‘80 and ‘84 Olympics.” explained Kelsey.
Though he had a decorated collegiate career in the United States, Kelsey’s star burned brightest on the world stage. Appearing in over 400 games for the national team, Kelsey helped lead Canada to gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Basketball Championships, as well as the 1983 FISU World University Games. On top of that, he was an integral part of the squad that finished fourth at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles.
Following a professional playing career in Guadalajara, Mexico, Kelsey became the athletic coordinator at the University of Victoria. After that, he served as the executive vice president of Canada Basketball.
Last year Kelsey was a part of the team that organized the Vancouver Showcase, a collegiate basketball tournament held at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The event featured some of the best men’s and women’s teams that the NCAA has to offer. According to Kelsey, Canadian’s have never been more interested in basketball.
“The appetite for basketball continues to grow in Vancouver and across the country. The profile is growing exponentially, with so many high-profile NBA and NCAA Division One players, men and women,” said Kelsey.“The experience was fantastic. In the next month we’re expecting to announce our eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams for next year in November.”
Canada Basketball has recognized Kelsey’s contributions to the sport in both the player and builder categories. Kelsey told the North Shore News that his work isn't done just yet.
“It’s a humbling honour. When you get that you’re closing a circle, it basically makes me want to pay it forward more,” said Kelsey. “I’m at the end of the conveyor belt now, so I have all the kids coming up and I know that I can help them along their way, so I will always look to pay it back.”