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Jeremy Kipness

Jeremy Kipness

Co-Founder | Recruiting Coordinator | Head Coach of National HS Team

Phone: (203) 506-0691

Jeremy Kipness was born in Queens, New York and raised in Guilford, Connecticut. After a successful high school career at Guilford High School for his first three years Kipness transferred to Massapequa High School in Long Island, New York where he played for well-respected high school coach, Martin Voight, before accepting an offer to play at Division-III New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. Prior to his first season with the Pilgrims, he realized that as much as he loved playing and competing on the court as a player, he wanted to pursue a career as a coach and decided to forgo his college playing career to get a jump start in the coaching profession.

From there, Kipness transferred to the University of Louisville, where he served as a Student-Manager for the men’s basketball team under the tutelage and mentorship of Hall-of-Fame Head Coach, Rick Pitino (2011-2014). During his time with Louisville the Cardinals achieved monumental success: winning a school-record 35 games en route to winning the 2013 NCAA National Championship, advancing to the 2012 Final Four, winning two Big East regular season and tournament titles, and an American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament crown. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 2015 with a Bachelors Degree in Sport Administration. 

After his time at Louisville, Kipness resided in Senegal, West Africa, where he worked as Director of Player Development Intern with SEED Project (Sports for Education and Economic Development). During his time abroad he provided leadership and direction for a soundly based, consistent, and coordinated Player Development curriculum, while working with SEED Project to develop the basketball landscape over in Senegal, West Africa. 

Kipness then served as the Associate Head Varsity Coach and Head Freshmen Coach at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona for the 2015-2016 season, and is a huge advocate of player development and individual skill instruction. For the last nine years, he has worked as a skill development specialist with players at the youth level on up to the Division-I collegiate and professional level. While at Louisville, Kipness aided in the development of 5 NBA Draft Picks (Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell), as well as countless professional players overseas (Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear, Stephan Van Treese, Chris Jones, Rakeem Buckles).

Kipness has also traveled the country coaching at numerous elite summer basketball camps over the last four years, working alongside the likes of Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, Former Florida Gators and current Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan, UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie, and Memphis Tigers Head Coach Josh Pastner. He also co-founded and helped manage the Connecticut Wizards' AAU basketball program in 2009 as a high school junior, which has grown to encompass eight teams total, both boys and girls ranging from U10 to U16.

In September of 2015, Kipness along with his father, Aspire's President of Operations, Michael Kipness, founded Aspire Basketball Academy and started laying the groundwork for their program's inaugural season for the 2016-17 academic year. In August 2016, Aspire Academy welcomed 21 student-athletes to comprise both the national high school and the post graduate teams. 3 continents, and 7 different countries were represented amongst the student-body, including 3 from Senegal, 2 from Canada and 1 apiece from Germany, Serbia, and Croatia. For the 2016-17 season, Kipness served as the Director of Basketball Operations and Head Coach for the national high school boys' team.

Upon Aspire's relocation to Louisville, Kentucky for the 2017-2018 academic year, Kipness' has continued to serve in the positions of Director of Operations, and Head Coach of Aspire Academy's national high school team. In Aspire Academy's first season in Louisville, Kentucky, Kipness was able to steer the Wizards to a 24-11 season record and an appearance in the Finals of the 'Grind Session World Championship'. Even more impressive, all 5 seniors in the class of 2018  have signed National Letters of Intent with Division-1 programs.

Coaching Highlights:

  • Coach and developed 13 collegiate players at Aspire Academy in only 2 years, including 8 Division-1 players, 1 Division-2 player, and 4 Junior College players
  • 44-24 overall record in 2 years as Head Coach of Aspire Academy's national high school team
  • 2017-18 regular season record of 24-11
  • Finals appearance (lost to Victory Rock Prep 54-60) in the 2017-18 Grind Session World Championships
  • 2017-18 Grind Session circuit record of 13-6
  • 2016-17 overall season record of 20-13
  • Elite-8 appearance (lost to Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) in overtime 49-50) in the 2016-17 Grind Session World Championships
  • Participation in some of the most prestigious tournaments/showcases in the country including the 'Marshall County Hoop Fest' (Benton, KY), the Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational' (Dayton, OH), and the 'Lighthouse Classic' (Corinth, MS)
  • 3 student-athletes in 2 years have earned All-Grind Session Team honors, including 2 members of the 2018 First Team All-Grind Session team (Milton Wordlow III, 2016-2017, Charles Bassey & De'Sean Allen-Eikens, 2017-2018)
Michael Kipness

Michael Kipness

Co-Founder / President of Operations

Phone: (203) 605-7270

Michael Kipness was born in New York City in 1957 and quickly became enamored with Basketball at a young age. He lived just blocks away from Power Memorial High School where he watched Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor at the time) dominate his peers. Kipness was a passionate fan of both the NY Knicks and NY Nets. When not attending games at Madison Square Garden, he was listening to the ‘play by play’ of Marv Albert through his transistor radio. Kipness would take a subway a few stops up to Harlem to watch outside the gates of Rucker Park the great street legends such as Julius ‘Dr. J’ Irving, Connie Hawkins, Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl ‘the goat’ Manigault, Joe Hammond, Herman ‘Helicopter’ Knowings and many more.

Kipness attended Bernard Baruch College in New York City, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in 1983 with a double major in Education and Psychology. He started his professional career working his way up to General Manager of the world-renowned family owned restaurant, Joe’s Pier 52, located in the theater district. As General Manager, Kipness was responsible for managing and overseeing a staff of over 125 employees, as well as being responsible for the purchase of all food and beverages. During his tenure there, Kipness managed the accounting of $7 million + a year in gross sales.

He took advantage of his entrepreneurial way of thinking and business skills and turned his passion for thoroughbred horse racing into a profession, starting up “Wizard Publications” in 1987, which has become one of America's premier thoroughbred horse racing publications.

Michael Kipness' career has been featured in several national magazines and has served as a commentator on Television. He also has achieved success as a horse owner and advisor to several of America’s best trainers and owners throughout his career.

Along with his son Jeremy, this father and son duo have scouted many players at very young ages that have gone on to make a name for themselves at the high school, college and NBA levels. It has always been a dream of the 2 of them to establish a world-class Basketball Academy with emphasis on quality education and helping shape the character and emotional development of the student athlete both on and off the basketball court.


The Father-Son duo together after winning the 2016 Elite 1 Fall Showcase

Lupe V. Kraft

Lupe V. Kraft

Executive Coordinator / Executive Host Student Administrator

Lupe Kraft was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She grew up with two brothers and four cousins. Weekend family gatherings consisted of about 10 aunts and uncles and 20 cousins. Being raised with a large family was a great way of life that shaped her love of children and instilled the importance of family values that she deems extremely important.

Lupe brings more than 30 years of experience working with children and young people.  Not only has she been teaching for over 20 years, but she also has exceptional management and organizational experience in an educational environment. 

 Her work experiences include the following:

  • Pasadena School District from 1987 – 1989 as a Teacher’s Assistant.
  • San Bernardino School District for six years. Her positions included Bilingual tutoring, ESL tutoring, Math and English tutoring and one on one lessons to students with special needs.
  • Touchstone Behavioral Health for four years. Her duties included directing a before and after school children’s program before she was promoted to a managerial position. She then supervised four of these programs located in the Phoenix Elementary School District. She worked closely with her staff, students, as well as with parents. She organized and supervised the students’ curriculum, activities and field trips. It was her responsibility to ensure the welfare and safety of all the students and staff
  • Bella Vista College Preparatory School for ten years. She taught High School Spanish, Middle School Math, Middle School Vocabulary as well as a Leadership Course and Folklorico Lessons as electives.

Through Bella Vista College Prep, Lupe and her family began hosting foreign exchange students in 2013. This was a calling that she and her family thoroughly enjoyed. Lupe and her family joined the Aspire Basketball Academy in 2016 during their inception year when the Aspire Program collaborated with Bella Vista.

Lupe and her family have hosted students from India, Germany, Thailand, Serbia, Croatia, Africa and Canada. Lupe’s ability to successfully manage a full household can be attributed to her passion, firmness and fairness. It has been through commitment and experience that Lupe is able to effectively interact with people from multiple cultures. Lupe’s own bilingual background makes it especially advantageous not just to be able to communicate, but also to understand each students’ individual cultures and customs.

After over 20 years in Phoenix, AZ, Lupe, her husband Mike, and three sons, Victor, David and Cesar decided to relocate to Louisville, Kentucky to continue hosting students for the Aspire Basketball Academy. Lupe’s exceptional management skills, as well as her extensive knowledge and experience in the education field and in hosting students – as well as her love of a big family environment, will be a great asset to the home experience for the Aspire Student Athletes living away from home.

Tim Barnett

Tim Barnett

Director & Head Coach of Post Graduate Team

Phone: (502) 807-7152

Tim Barnett was born in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Waggener High School where he lettered in football, basketball and track. He began his college basketball career at Eastern Kentucky University where he played one season for the Colonels. 

The 6’2 combo guard went on to play at Western Nebraska Community College where, along with NBA guard Bobby Jackson, helped lead the team to a 36-4 record, a Region 9 Championship and a 3rd place finish on the National Junior College Championship. Barnett received his Associates Degree in May of 1995.

Barnett then received an athletic scholarship to the University of Nevada-Reno where he finished his career as a two-year letterman helping his team to a regular season conference title, a conference tourney championship game appearance and a second round N.I.T. finish.  He earned his Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology. 

Including founding a program called The Ballers with the local Boys and Girls Club in Reno, Barnett has held several coaching positions.  He coached the 6th-8th grade boys’ basketball team at Traner Middle School, held the title as Head Junior Varsity and Assistant Varsity Coach of the boys’ basketball team at Galena High School in Reno, NV before moving back to Louisville KY and becoming the Assistant Varsity coach and the Head Freshman boys coach at Ballard High School.

Barnett is the Founder/President of F.O.C.U.S Basketball Academy in Louisville, Kentucky.  Founded in October 2005, F.O.C.U.S Basketball Academy is a youth organization whose mission is to provide positive role models and aid in the character development of our local youth.  F.O.C.U.S stands for Focus On Character = Ultimate Success and the program is shaped by their four main pillars of ideology: Academics, Athletics, Character and Community. The facility offers Mentoring, Group Instruction, Individual Skills Training, and AAU Competitive Teams. The academy has won 14 State Championships

Tim Barnett Media was created to help students athletes after college help maximize their potential off the court by helping grow and develop their brands. He currently works with Peyton Siva (2013 National Champion and Professional), Russ Smith (2013 National Champion and Professional), Terry Rozier (Boston Celtics), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves) and a couple others.

Dean Baumert

Dean Baumert

Associate Head Coach of National High School Team | Director of Jr. Wizards

Phone: (502) 741-2869

Dean Baumert was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky where he attended Eastern High School. While at Eastern he was part of several teams that experienced high levels of success including a 7th Region tournament title, a quarterfinal appearance in the Kentucky State championship, two Louisville Invitational Tournament titles, one 28th district title, and a record of 102-29 over four seasons. He also found his passion for coaching while at Eastern thanks to the mentorship of Coach Jason Couch.

With this new found inspiration he decided to attend the University of Louisville in order to become a student-manager for the men’s basketball program and learn under coaching legend, Rick Pitino. While at Louisville he forged many relationships with several of the players and staff, including Jeremy Kipness. During this time period, Louisville made a Final Four appearance and won two Big East championships.

Following his time at Louisville, Baumert was given his first coaching opportunity by David Henley at Eastern High School. He would spend the next six years as an assistant Varsity coach and five years as the head JV coach. While coaching at Eastern, Baumert aided in the development of several D-I, D-II, D-III, and NAIA athletes. As a program, Eastern won a 28th district title over this time period. Baumert has also coached with several AAU programs in Louisville including the Louisville Magic, Derby City Process, and Derby City Elite.

Baumert is currently enrolled at Bellarmine University completing his B.A. in Sport Administration.

Damien Anderson

Damien Anderson

Assistant Coach of National High School Team

Damien Anderson was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia where he played professional basketball for 16 years before turning to coaching.  Playing most of his career in the SEABL and QBL, Anderson made the All Star team in his respective leagues 8 times.  Over the course of 16 years, Anderson won 6 Conference Championships and One National Championship (2003).  Damien holds several major league records in Australia including most 3 point field goals made in a game (20), most points in a QBL game and most points ever by an Australian born player (75). Anderson began his coaching career in Australia as an assistant coach with the Brisbane Spartans and also the Queensland Under 20 team where he helped guide the team to a silver medal at the Australian Junior National Championships.

Following his playing days, Damien moved to California as a Graduate Assistant at the University of the Pacific working under the all time winningest coach in Big West history, Bob Thomason.  After two years at Pacific with a 42-23 record, Anderson moved east to Louisville as an assistant coach at St Xavier High School.   After a successful 4 year stint at St X, Anderson moved back to the college ranks at DII powerhouse, Bellarmine University.  In three seasons at BU, the Knights enjoyed a 78-19 record which included a trip to the DII Final Four, 2 GLVC Conference Regular Season Championships and a Midwest Regional Championship.

After the birth of his first child, Anderson spent one more year at St Xavier High School before joining Aspire Academy in June 2017. 

Corbin Maynard

Corbin Maynard

Assistant Coach of National High School Team

Corbin Maynard was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky where he attended Louisville Male until his Freshmen year of high school before transferring to St. Francis DeSales. While at DeSales, Corbin played three seasons of basketball. He helped lead DeSales to back to back All “A” State Championships appearances. Upon graduation the two time All “A” State tournament player attended Bellarmine University as a walk-on basketball player.

While at Bellarmine University, Maynard worked his way from a walk-on into a scholarship athlete his final two seasons. During his time at Bellarmine University he appeared in two NCAA Division II final fours (2012, 2015). Maynard was a key part during his four years of Bellarmine’s success, accumulating a 105-22 record, third all time in career wins. During his senior 2014-2015 campaign he was named as a team captain, NCAA Tournament All-Tournament Team, and accumulated 50 steals which was 2nd best on his team and 7th most steals in Bellarmine History. He graduated in 2015 with a degree in Communications and a minor in Business Administration.

Following his playing days he went into orthopedic sales. After a year of sales, he followed his heart and pursued his passion with coaching. He took a Graduate Assistant Position at Spring Hill College in 2016. While at Spring Hill he was the Head Coach of the Junior Varsity program and helped the Varsity team. His role as an Assistant consisted of developing guard play, administrate study halls, create scouting reports, and helped the Varsity program finish 2nd in the NCAA Division II conference SIAC.

Maynard provides a high basketball IQ and work ethic that will be valued at Aspire.

Dr. Blair S. Tolar

Dr. Blair S. Tolar

Program Associate

Blair Tolar was born and raised in a small town in Western Kentucky, Paducah.  After graduating from college at Murray State University, he attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine.  Blair remained in Louisville after graduation to complete a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

After completing residency, Blair returned home with his wife, Rheanel (a board certified Internal Medicine physician), and infant twin sons, Noah and Colin, in 2004.  Blair and Rheanel expanded their family in 2007 with the arrival of Max and again in 2012 when they adopted Eva from Kolomna, Russia.  Blair continues to practice medicine as an obstetrician and gynecologist.  Currently, he also serves as the Medical Director for the Baptist Health Medical Group where he serves in a leadership position for advocacy, strategic planning, and optimization of an 80 health care provider multi specialty group.

After helping with some local high school prep basketball events in Western Kentucky, Blair found a new passion including the development of relationships with basketball players, the coaches and their families.  Blair and his family continue to be involved in these people's lives and has followed several of the players' careers as they have achieved the ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.  

Most recently, through these events, Blair has developed a close and unique relationship with Jeremy and Michael Kipness.  Blair wants to be a part of a process that results in the improvement of these young men.  He wants to see these young men leave better than they were when they arrived.  Blair believes that Aspire Academy has the right mind set and core values to achieve these things.