Belleville Baller Becomes Elite Basketball Coach

By Geordie Michell Belleville Spirits Basketball

Coach Kevin Barnes of Belleville is the founder and Head Coach of Southwest Academy in London, Ontario. The team is in the highly touted Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA) whose most notable graduates are NBA stars Jamal Murray, Lugentz Dort, Thon Makur, O’Shea Brissett, and Ignas Brazdeikis. Barnes’ path to this point has given him the tools to develop young athletes and help build the game across the country. 

Barnes started out his basketball journey here in Belleville, playing the majority of his basketball at local powerhouse Nicholson Catholic College (NCC) as point guard. During his time at NCC, he played for a number of great coaches who were themselves very dedicated to the game. These coaches gave a strong foundation for the flashy point guard, and he became a vocal floor general that would help him later when he became a coach himself. 

Following high school, Barnes continued his basketball career at the University of Alberta from 2006-2010. His aptitude for the game and his leadership skills on and off the court led him to be the team’s starting point guard and team captain. In his final year, he led the Alberta Collegiate Athletic Conference (ACAC) in assists, averaging 4.59 assists per game while also scoring 9 points per game. 

When his time as a player came to an end, he moved in 2011 to London, Ontario to accept the Assistant Coaching position for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs Men’s Basketball team. He would remain in that position for 5 years, but would also focus on developing many of the young players within London at the same. During those 5 years, he was head coach of the U14 London Ramblers, U15 London Ramblers, U14 OSDP Huron Region Team, U16 OSDP Huron Region Team, and U19 London Ramblers (2013-2015). It was during these 5 years of valuable experience and success that Coach Barnes made the decision to go, as he says, “all in”, and quit his day job to pursue coaching as a full-time career.

“I want to help people be the best version of themselves and, in turn, pursue my own personal best. I believe in the power of sports to unite and motivate people. Being part of a team and bringing value to people’s lives on a daily basis is inspiring.” – Coach Kevin Barnes 

In 2016, Coach Kevin Barnes (Men) and Coach Rob Angione (Women) founded Southwest Basketball Academy in the OSBA. The Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association can be compared to “prep” basketball programs in the United States, but allows local athletes to stay in Canada. It is focused on preparing athletes for success at provincial, national and international competitions, while also providing exposure for athletes and talent identification for Canada Basketball, CCAA, U SPORTS and NCAA. Barnes makes sure his teams play against the best prep schools in North America, like last year’s run-in with Spire Academy who was led by current NBA lottery pick LaMelo Ball. 

Top Alumni Southwest Academy Boys Program:

Thomas Kennedy – Team MVP for the Windsor Lancers University and plays pro with the Hamilton Honey Badgers in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).

Xavier Ochu – Defensive player of the year for the Dalhousie Tigers and plays pro with the Edmonton Stingers of the CEBL.

Kobe Elvis – OSBA MVP and scoring champion. He has committed to play at Division 1 school DePaul University in the USA. 

Malachi Ndur – Committed to Brown University, an Ivy League Division 1 school in the USA. 

In 2016, Barnes also started working with the Junior Academy Program (JRA), which serves as the entry point into Canada Basketball’s High Performance Athlete Development Pathway. Then in 2018, while subsequently building Southwest Academy from the ground up, he accepted the role as the U17 Provincial Team Assistant Coach in 2018. He was later promoted to the Lead Assistant role in 2019 and remains in this role currently. 

Out of 34 total national championships, Ontario has won gold 25 times and the team’s alumni are currently competing in the NBA, other pro leagues globally, NCAA, and USports.

Barnes says Southwest Basketball Academy’s job, “is to level players up. They come to us to get to the next level. Creating opportunities for student athletes is what we do.” Barnes plans to come home in August to run a basketball camp, in collaboration with local coaches, to help his hometown players “level up”. Information about the camp will be available in the new year and will be found on the Jr. NBA Belleville and the Spirits Boys Basketball Facebook pages.


Coach Barnes Top 10 “Next Level”  Player Attributes:

  • Be on time – if your not ten minutes early your late
  • Put in the work – Skill and strength work outside of team practice 
  • Be Consistent – Figure out what you do well and make sure you bring that to the gym everyday 
  • Be coachable – eye contact and application
  • Be a giver – give energy, give confidence, give 100% focus to your team
  • Be committed to both sides of the ball offense and defense
  • Be Self Aware 
  • Be efficient offensively – +50% FG+80 % FT+40% 3pt 
  • Learn to embrace adversity and failure. The two best ways to learn
  • There is no discount for experience, go play against the best competition you can find.