When Jack Concannon was hired for a second stint coaching boys basketball at Bonner & Prendergast four years ago and heard that the runner-up for the job was a 26-year-old, he had to find out more about this contender.
So he called up Kevin Funston, then the JV coach at Archbishop Carroll, and asked if he was interested in a job on his staff. And then, maybe one day, the inside line on a head coaching job that Concannon didn’t aspire to hold in perpetuity.
When Concannon decided to step away after four successful seasons last month, it was a no-brainer to tab Funston to take over. That decision was made official by the school Monday.
“It’s awesome,” Funston said. “This morning I was calling (athletic director) Joe Lake about an unrelated thing. And he said, ‘you beat me to the punch; you’re the next coach of Bonner basketball.’ He caught me off guard but it was really nice.”
In short order, the 30-year-old has assembled quite the track record of coaching influences. The Lansdowne native attended St. Joseph’s Prep, where he played alongside several Division I players under the tutelage of Speedy Morris. At the University of Pittsburgh, he worked camps for head coach Jamie Dixon. After branching out to jobs at Lycoming and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he returned to his Catholic League roots on Paul Romanczuk’s staff at Carroll.
That pathway offers Funston plenty of ideas to pick and choose from as he forms his coaching ideology.
“I’m always trying to be a sponge,” he said. “… I try to take a little bit from every single coach that I work under and then put my own spin on it and add my own personality to the mix.”
Funston expressed gratitude to Concannon for the latitude he was given as an assistant, to run practices and contribute to game-planning and in-game adjustments. Concannon decided last month it was time to step down, having achieved his goal of transforming Bonner from the dregs of the Catholic League to a regular-season title, the league final at the Palestra and the semifinals of the PIAA Class 5A tournament, the program’s first ever states qualification.
Now he’s ready to see Funston take the next steps.
“It’s a good time for me to step away, and it’s good timing for him,” Concannon said. “And he’s ready to be a head coach and hopefully take it to the next level.”
Funston inherits a strong roster that includes 2017-18 Daily Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year Isaiah Wong, a blue-chipper with offers from more than a dozen top programs, as well as Division I prospect Tariq Ingraham. Funston’s familiarity with the school allows him to continue many ideas that Concannon instituted in reversing the program’s fortunes. One of those is ensuring the steady supply of talent in the pipeline.
“I think it’s bigger than basketball,” Funston said. “Whenever kids come here for visits or for shadowing, they leave knowing automatically that Bonner is a place that they want to be. It’s the faculty and the staff and the academics and the whole culture here. They know they can be a part of that and a part of a family from day one here, and also the basketball success that we had last year is a nice part of it but it’s a larger culture that makes it easier to buy into and where they can be themselves.”