Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Johnny Dawkins, one of the most decorated players in Duke basketball history, is in his 11th year of coaching at his alma mater. He was promoted following the 1998-99 campaign to associate head coach.
During his 10 years as a coach at Duke, the Blue Devils have won a national championship in 2001, six ACC regular season championships, seven ACC Tournament titles, and have posted an amazing 302-54 record, 129-31 in league play. For four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002, Duke finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both major national polls, marking the first time that has happened in college basketball history. Duke has reached the No. 1 national ranking in eight of the 10 seasons that Dawkins has coached for the Blue Devils.
With all of these team and his own individual accomplishments, Dawkins relishes the 2001 national championship the most.
“There was a sense of fulfillment (in 2001),” said Dawkins. “When you accomplish something with a group that requires total commitment like that does, it fills you up inside and you still have that feeling. I don’t think you ever lose it. You know what it’s like to have won at the highest level.”
Dawkins leads the Duke player development efforts. The results have been impressive. Nine Blue Devils have been NBA lottery picks and one of his pupils, Elton Brand, was named Co-NBA Rookie of the Year. He played an integral role in the development of Duke’s latest NBA first round selections, Shelden Williams, who was selected fifth overall, and J.J. Redick, who was selected 11th overall, in 2006. Other first-rounders under Dawkins’ guidance have been Roshown McLeod (20th overall in 1998), Brand (first in 1999), Trajan Langdon (11th in 1999), Corey Maggette (13th in 1999), William Avery (14th in 1999), Shane Battier (sixth in 2001), Jason Williams (second in 2002), Mike Dunleavy (third in 2002), Dahntay Jones (20th in 2003) and Luol Deng (seventh in 2004). In addition, Duke has had four National Players of the Year — Brand in 1999, Battier in 2001, Williams in 2001 and 2002 and Redick in 2005 and 2006 — and 13 All-Americas during Dawkins’ tenure on the Blue Devil coaching staff.
“Coach Dawkins was like a father figure to me,” said former Duke guard Sean Dockery. “He talked to us about everything and helped with situations on and off the court. From a coaching view, he helped us with everything and he also got us on the punishment side when we are doing things wrong. He is just a great guy.”
Dawkins added to his coaching resume in 2006 when he was named the Player Personnel Director for the USA Basketball Senior National Team (2006-08). In his first competition with the program, Dawkins helped a team that included former Duke standouts Elton Brand and Shane Battier to an 8-1 record and a bronze medal finish at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
As a player, Dawkins finished his Duke career in 1986 as the school’s all-time leading scorer and held that honor until Feb. 19, 2006 when Redick scored 30 points in a home win over Miami to surpass his mark of 2,556 points. Prior to the 2002-03 season, Dawkins was named as one of the 50 greatest players in ACC history by the league office. The Sporting News named Dawkins the 78th greatest player in college basketball history in its Legends of College Basketball book released in 2002. It was Dawkins’ class that helped Duke land a spot among the nation’s elite programs.
After suffering through an 11-17 freshman season when he was named Freshman All-America, Dawkins led Duke to an 84-21 record over his last three seasons. A native of Washington, D.C., Dawkins was a part of three NCAA Tournament squads. During his senior year as team captain, the Blue Devils played an NCAA record 40 games, won an NCAA record 37 contests and recorded a single season school record 21-game winning streak (that streak has since been broken). That squad went on to win the ACC regular season championship, the ACC Tournament title, and advance to the NCAA Final Four where the Blue Devils lost to Louisville in the National Championship game in Dallas.
Dawkins set school records for most field goals in a season with 331 in 1986 and most field goals in a career with 1,026. He scored in double figures in a school-record 129 career games, all but four of the contests he played in at Duke. Dawkins led the Blue Devils in scoring all four years of his career, recording the fourth-highest season point figure in school history with 809 in 1986.
In addition, he held Duke career standards for points in ACC regular season action (1,073) and points scored in Cameron Indoor Stadium (1,125), until the 2005-06 season when Redick surpassed both marks. The team leader in assists as a freshman, he ranks sixth in career assists with 555.
An alternate on the 1984 USA Olympic basketball team, Dawkins was a two-time first team All-ACC performer in 1985 and 1986 as well as the school’s first consensus two-time, first team All-America. He added ACC Tournament MVP and National Player of the Year accolades as a senior.
A 1986 first-round draft selection (10th pick overall) by San Antonio, Dawkins saw action in nine NBA seasons with the Spurs, 76ers and Pistons.
Upon his retirement from the NBA, he was inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in September 1996. His jersey number 24 was retired by the school.
Dawkins, who maintained a residence in Durham with his wife, Tracy, during his NBA career, spent the 1996-97 academic year as an administrative intern in the Duke athletic department. He also served as the radio color analyst for all Duke games on the Capitol Sports Network.
The 44-year-old Dawkins graduated from Duke in 1986 with a degree in political science. He and his wife, Tracy, reside in Bahama with their four children — Aubrey, Jillian, Blair and Sean.