Whether, or weather, he will admit it or not, Derek Howard is just quackers about basketball.
Frozen hoops, Canadian style, was a major part of his life having played high school ball from 1984-89 at Hamilton?s Hill
Park High School and then at McMaster University Marauders from 1989-93.
Wearing McMaster?s maroon and grey colours he was a two-time Ontario University Athletics All-Star under coaches Barry
Phillips and Joe Raso.
But since 1994 the hoops have been hot while hooping it up down south Florida way.
During his time he has coached at various Florida high schools including Countryside, Vero Beach and Melbourne Central
Catholic. He also had a stint as an assistant coach with the Belmont Abbey College Crusaders in 1995. The Crusaders are situated
in the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference.
It was in 1996 that Howard had his first taste of minor league professional basketball in the role of scout for the United
States Basketball League?s (USBL) Florida Sharks, who were coached by Eric Musselman (now an assistant coach with the NBA?s
According to the USBL, 130 of its former players have moved on to the NBA. Alumni include former Magic guard Darrell Armstrong,
Muggsy Bogues, Chris Childs and Anthony Mason.
The life of minor league ball seems to have appeased Howard?s appetite with his continued involvement with the sport
while also finding time to teach in high school.
In 2002 he signed on with the USBL Brevard Blue Ducks as an assistant coach under Harvey Grant.
With the USBL running from April ? June, the opportunity to coach in more than one minor league often presents itself to
the true basketball junkie. Such was the case for Howard filling the role of head coach of the Wilmington Wave Rockers
of the XBA-Carolina Pro League and leading them all the way to the championship game.
This did not go unoticed due to the fact that on January 28, 2003 the announcement was made that Howard would be the
new coach of the Blue Ducks.
"Derek did an outstanding job for us last year (2002)," commented owner Michael Richman in a press release. "He helped
put together our tryout camp, picked our players for last year?s college draft and drew up the majority of our offensive plays.
No one else really knows our players and organization as well as Derek."
In 2003 he also did double duty with the NABL KC Steers as Head Coach/General Manager.
He presently teaches at Southeast High School (KC-Missouri) but will return to the Ducks in 2005 in the role of director
of player personal.
"I am basically in charge of the identification, recruitment, and selection of veteran and rookie players-as well as assisting
in the transition of our players to their next job(s)," said Howard, who says he stays in touch with the Canadian basketball
scene. "I began (with the Blue Ducks) as an assistant coach, under head coach Harvey Grant, and the following year became
the head coach. After I moved to Kansas City, I stepped down as head coach and began on the player personnel side. This will
be my second year as the director of player personnel."
With his knowledge of the life of minor league sports, Frozen Hoops asked Howard the simple question "Why is there no minor
league pro basketball in Canada?
"Canada has had professional ball, with the CBA Toronto Tornadoes and a number of other leagues ( World Basketball League 1988 to 1992 and National Basketball League 1993 to 1994) and the fledgling Ontario
league that Scott Robinson tried to get off the ground this past spring/summer. I think that Canadians are certainly not as
passionate about basketball as they are about other sports, and like most minor leagues the financial supports do not typically
last very long. The troubled history of
minor league basketball is not only a Canadian problem-check out the history of
even the most established minor leagues. Most recently, the ABA is really facing some challenges."
Howard noted that there have been no Canadian players of the Blue Ducks roster to date.
"I am involved with any players that I feel give my basketball teams the opportunity to win games. I
a loyalty factor when dealing with Canadian players. For various reasons, I've not had
any Canadians play for Brevard.
Our (Canadian) very best players usually go to Europe, and sometimes the
length of their winter season effects their ability
to get involved with us."