Keffrey Fazio met with some of his current players and texted with former ones Monday to announce he is leaving the West Seattle High School boys’ basketball program to accept a role as an assistant coach at Seattle Pacific University.
The consensus response: They knew, at some point, this was coming.
It was only a matter of time before Fazio moved up after a run of unprecedented success at West Seattle. The 35-year-old coach led the Wildcats to two state appearances in his six years, including a trip to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2017 when they lost to Garfield (a team led by UW guard Jaylen Nowell and Stanford guard Daejon Davis) before placing third.
Before Fazio took over, West Seattle’s only previous state-tournament victory was in 1970.
But he said it has been his dream to coach college basketball, so joining SPU coach Grant Leep’s staff was too good to resist.
“I wasn’t looking to leave West Seattle,” said Fazio, who has also served as an executive secretary for the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association and has coordinated its annual all-state games.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done here. I just told the kids yesterday that this is something where I’ve wanted to coach in college and this opportunity was just a no-brainer.”
Fazio joined West Seattle as an assistant coach in 2008 under Donald Watts, the son of former Sonics guard Slick Watts, before Fazio took over as an interim coach during the 2012-13 season.
About a month later, Fazio led West Seattle to a 70-69 victory over Franklin, which at the time was coached by Jason Kerr, who this year orchestrated O’Dea to the Class 3A state title.
“That was my first big signature win and we beat them at our place, and I think that got the kids to believe that maybe Coach knows what he’s talking about,” Fazio said. “I do things pretty differently than most coaches in our league and sometimes that doesn’t go over well with a 29-year-old coach like I was at the time.”
West Seattle reached the Tacoma Dome again this season before losing in the first round against Capital.
When the rest of the Metro League played up-tempo, Fazio went the other way. He figured if he’d have any success in what has been the most competitive league in the state over his tenure, then his teams weren’t going to do it by being more athletic than the likes of Garfield, Rainier Beach, O’Dea, Eastside Catholic and others.
“We didn’t have the horses to do that, so to speak,” Fazio said. “I tried to figure out a contrasting style of play and it took awhile to execute and ultimately be successful, but we liked to slow it down and win possessions and try to get to the fourth quarter.
“It’s such an honor to have coached in the Metro League. I know it gets a bad rep sometimes, but I’ve truly enjoyed coaching in this league against these coaches and a lot of really good players. It was a lot of fun.”