CINCINNATI — Christian Brothers University men's basketball coach Mike Nienaber was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame on May 13 at Receptions Banquet Center in Fairfield, OH.
While Nienaber played high school basketball at La Salle High School in Cincinnati, he has spent his entire 32-year college coaching career in west Tennessee, 16 years at Bethel College in McKenzie and 16 years at CBU.
"It's a great honor. I was shocked when they contacted me," said Nienaber. "Because my entire career has been at two schools in Tennessee. So you don't really expect to be recognized in Cincinnati."
So why is a Tennessee college coach inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame? Both at Bethel and at CBU, Nienaber has stayed true to his Cincinnati roots.
"That's a reflection of how many good players we've had both at Bethel and here at CBU," Nienaber said. "What we've done here, and my best teams at Bethel, were all stocked with Cincinnati players. They weren't the only good players, but we've always had a lot of good players from Cincinnati."
Nienaber has coached two All-Americans at CBU, both from Cincinnati (Lakota East HS graduate Nick Kohs in 2008-09 and Sycamore HS graduate Scott Dennis in 2011-12). He has coached 10 All-South Region players at CBU, seven of which hailed from Cincinnati, including three-time All-Region forward Kevin Weybright of Wyoming HS. He has coached 20 All-GSC players at CBU, 13 of which are from Cincinnati. Nienaber has coached seven GSC Freshmen of the Year, four of which come from Greater Cincinnati, including Kyle Couvion, of Centerville HS, who led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio while at CBU.
"We've gotten a lot of good guys. I always like to say, if you're pumping the well and oil is coming out, you keep pumping. It's worked so well for us."
At both CBU and Bethel, Nienaber immediately went to Cincinnati to lay the foundation for future success.
"The first kid I signed at Bethel was an All-American post player named John Kemper. He scored over 2,000 points and led the nation in rebounding in the NAIA. The first kid I signed here at CBU was Jake Bazeley, and he was an All-Conference player. The irony is that they grew up on the same street, went to the same grade school, and both of them played at Elder High School."
Once Nienaber laid the foundation, continuing to recruit Cincinnati was natural.
"Once you get those players, when they go home they call me telling me about other players I need to recruit."
For Nienaber, the success extends beyond the court. He has coached 17 Academic All-GSC players, nine of whom came to CBU from the Greater Cincinnati region.
"You look at the academic part of it. Most of those guys from Cincinnati have been great fits because they've come from good schools."
In all, 40 players from Greater Cincinnati have played for Nienaber for at least two years. All 40 have graduated from college, including 38 that graduated under Nienaber at Bethel or CBU.
Nienaber doesn't expect the Cincinnati pipeline to slow down anytime soon.
"For next year's team, you have Jeff Larkin, Tyler Estep, Alex Trentman and the three we've signed. So six guys of probably our top 12 next year are Cincinnati guys."