Basketball coaching legend Don Kloth will coach Warren sophomores this season

SHARE Basketball coaching legend Don Kloth will coach Warren sophomores this season

In the Let’s Play Hoops Sunday Fall Prep Basketball League at the Libertyville Sports Complex, the spotlight is on the players.

High school varsity head coaches sit in the stands and watch, as IHSA rules prohibit them from actually coaching their squads during the out-of-season competition.

And, yes, the players put on quite the show, including Stevenson High School senior guard Jalen Brunson who is likely to become the third local player to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball Award — given to the state’s top prep player — in the last seven years (Warren’s Brandon Paul in 2009 and Waukegan’s Jereme Richmond in 2010).

Most of the top area teams are participating, perhaps the lone exception being North Chicago.

But on this Sunday evening, it wasn’t a player who stood out in a star-studded field.

It was a star-studded coach: Don Kloth.

The winningest high school boys basketball coach in Lake County history, Kloth and Zion-Benton High School parted company after last season. In 25 years at Z-B, he had a varsity record of 528-221. His teams won 14 regional titles, two sectional titles and finished second in state in the Class 4A tournament in 2008.

A coach with that kind of record didn’t figure to be a non-coach for long and, sure enough, Kloth wasn’t. He accepted an assistant coaching position at Warren High in Gurnee, working with/under Ryan Webber, one of the area’s rising young coaching stars.

And in the Let’s Play Hoops Sunday League, Kloth is serving as a head coach, albeit not for the Warren Blue Devils. Instead, he’s coaching a piece-meal type of team, with players from several high schools (Barrington, Antioch, Palatine Fremd) who are playing together under the Kessel Heat youth basketball program’s umbrella and under Barrington’s “Broncos” team name.

Ironically, two Sundays ago, Kloth was coaching the Kessel Heat AAU travel team AGAINST the Warren Blue Devils. And yes, Kloth’s team won — 59-56.

“I wanted to coach a team this fall, but I didn’t want it to be a Warren team because I didn’t know yet what level I was going to coach,” Kloth said.

Kloth now knows he will be the head sophomore coach for the Blue Devils this winter.

He is also an assistant freshman coach in the Blue Devils’ football program, a role he also once filled at Zion-Benton.

Warren’s sophomore and varsity teams will play at Zion-Benton on Wednesday, Dec. 10, so that will be Coach Kloths’ official return to Z-B High — albeit surely wearing a Blue Devil blue sweater vest rather than the Zee-Bee maroon one he cornered the market on during his decades of service to ZBTHS.

Zion-Benton’s game at Warren will be on Friday, Jan. 23.

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