List of head coaches on Dean Smith’s coaching tree is an impressive one


Sunday morning the University of North Carolina announced that legendary head coach Dean Smith passed away Saturday night at the age of 83. During his time as a head coach Smith won 879 games, two national titles, an Olympic gold medal (1976), 13 ACC titles, 17 ACC regular season titles and helped shepherd many players not only into professional basketball but also in other arenas in life.

And to limit discussions about Smith’s impact to basketball would be unfair to him, as he also fought hard for social justice. Charles Scott, who told Smith during his recruitment that he preferred to be called “Charles” as opposed to the commonly used “Charlie,” became the ACC’s first African-American scholarship athlete in the mid-1960’s. Smith also participated in sit-ins, and protests over other issues such as the Vietnam War and the use of the death penalty.

To play for a person of Smith’s influence certainly benefitted his players, who went on to enjoy success not only in basketball but in other avenues of life as well. Below are those who went on to become head coaches in basketball, with many others moving on into assistant coaching and administrative roles. And this doesn’t include those, such as Gregg Popovich, who have been impacted by those who played for Smith.

While it likely wasn’t a goal of his, Dean Smith ended up planting one of the greatest coaching trees in all of sports.

MORE: Reactions to Dean Smith’s passing | Dean Smith’s ten greatest players at UNC

Active head coaches who played/worked for Dean Smith

  • Larry Brown (SMU): Brown’s amassed an impressive list of achievements at both the collegiate and professional levels, winning a national title at Kansas in 1988 and an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Currently the head coach at SMU, Brown won 1,327 games as a pro head coach (NBA and ABA) and has won more than 71 percent of his games as a college head coach. Brown played at UNC from 1960-63.
  • Roy Williams (North Carolina): The UNC alumnus returned home to Chapel Hill in 2003 after taking over for Brown at Kansas in 1988 and returning that program to national prominence. Like his mentor, Williams has two national titles to his credit, and he’s won just over 79 percent of his games as a college head coach. Williams has won two ACC titles and six ACC regular season titles at North Carolina, and like Brown, he’s a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Scott Cherry (High Point): Cherry was a senior captain on Smith’s second national title team (1993), and as an assistant he was a member of Jim Larrañaga’s staff on the George Mason team that reached the Final Four in 2006. Cherry took over as head coach at High Point in 2009, winning the Big South North Division title in 2013 and 2014 and the overall conference regular-season title in 2014.
  • Butch Estes (Barry University): Estes made the move to Barry from Palm Beach State College in 2013, and he’s won nearly 500 games during a head coaching career that has spanned just over three decades. Estes played freshman basketball at North Carolina, and he served as a student manager under Smith.
  • Jeff Lebo (East Carolina): Lebo, who played for Smith from 1985-89, has been a Division I head coach at four different schools (Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga, Auburn and ECU) and has a career record of 294-230. Lebo led his last team at Tennessee Tech (2001-02) to the quarterfinals of the Postseason NIT.
  • King Rice (Monmouth): Rice recently moved into the head coaching ranks, taking over at Monmouth in 2011. Rice, who played for Smith from 1987-91, served as an assistant at Oregon, Illinois State, Providence and Vanderbilt from 1992-2011. Among his assistants is another former Tar Heel in Brian Reese, who was a teammate of Rice’s at UNC and ultimately won a national title in 1993.
  • Tony Shaver (William & Mary): Shaver walked onto the North Carolina basketball team in 1972 and was a member of the program for four seasons, with players such as Walter Davis, Phil Ford and Mitch Kupchak among his teammates. In 2003, Shaver made the move from Hampden-Sydney to William & Mary, and he’s led the Tribe to three CAA tournament title game appearances.

Former head coaches who played for Smith at North Carolina

  • Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Matt Doherty (Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic, SMU)
  • Eddie Fogler (Wichita State, Vanderbilt, South Carolina)
  • George Karl (Montana Golden Nuggets (CAB), Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Albany Patroons (CBA; twice), Real Madrid (twice), Seattle Supersonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets)
  • John Kuester (Detroit Pistons)
  • Doug Moe (San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Buzz Peterson (Appalachian State (twice), Tulsa, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, UNCW)

Executives/Administrators who played for Smith at North Carolina

  • Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
  • Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan
  • Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak
  • Former Pacers/Knicks executive Donnie Walsh

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.