ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White announced the hiring of Johnny Dawkins as the men’s basketball program’s seventh head coach Wednesday.
Dawkins arrives in Orlando after an eight-year stint at Stanford, where he led the Cardinal to five postseason appearances, including an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2014. Dawkins also guided the Cardinal to two NIT Championships during his tenure (2012, 2015).
Stanford put together four 20-win seasons in Dawkins’ time as head coach. He is only the second coach in Stanford history with at least four 20-win seasons. Stanford’s success on the court came against some of the toughest schedules in the nation.
This season, the Cardinal faced the sixth-most difficult slate in the country. A nation-leading 17 of Stanford’s 30 games came against RPI Top 50 squads during the 2015-16 regular season. Stanford’s strength of schedule was rated in the top 50 each of the past four seasons, including two in the top 20, with an average rank of 27.75.
“I’m confident Johnny Dawkins will be a great leader for our men’s basketball program here at UCF,” White said. “There was a ton of interest in this position. We targeted Coach Dawkins early on in the process. After our conversations with him and after talking to many well-respected people in college basketball, it became clear to me that he’s the right coach to take our program to the next level. We are very happy to welcome Johnny, Tracy and their family to Orlando.
“The members of our search committee, who were instrumental in helping us bring Coach Dawkins to UCF, deserve a great deal of credit for their role in this hire,” White added. “I want to thank President Hitt, Alex Martins, George Kalogridis and David Albertson, along with the UCF Athletics executive team, for their assistance with the search.”
Dawkins expressed his excitement to be joining the Knights.
“I'd like to thank President Hitt, Danny White and the entire administration for their belief, faith and confidence in me,” Dawkins said. “This is a meaningful opportunity to build and grow a program that we can be proud of. I am honored to represent UCF, the community and the state of Florida.”
The Cardinal basketball program also excelled in the classroom during Dawkins’ tenure, earning at least three Pac-12 All-Academic selections for five consecutive seasons and producing back-to-back Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients (2014, 2015). Stanford also received annual national academic recognition, with three players earning National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court status in 2015. The Cardinal was one of 20 NCAA Division I teams to earn an NABC Team Academic Excellence Award last season.
In 2012, Dawkins mentored Chasson Randle to become the consummate student-athlete. Randle finished that season as Stanford’s all-time leading scorer and earned the program’s first Academic All-America First Team selection since 2006. Under Dawkins, Stanford recorded back-to-back perfect Academic Progress Rate scores of 1000 in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 reports, the two most recent to be released by the NCAA.
Player development was also markedly improved at Stanford under Dawkins’ tutelage. Four Cardinal players were selected in the NBA Draft following their collegiate careers.
Dawkins has served as a member of the NABC Board of Directors since 2012. He also currently serves on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Ethics Coalition, an independent committee of current and former coaches, charged with promoting ethical conduct through leadership, education and mentoring opportunities, while identifying key issues challenging the coaching community.
Prior to his time in Palo Alto, the Washington, D.C. native coached for 10 years under the legendary Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. During Dawkins' decade as a coach at Duke, the Blue Devils won a national championship (2001), tallied six ACC regular season championships, recorded seven ACC Tournament titles and posted a 330-60 record. In four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002, Duke finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both national polls, a first in college basketball history. Duke reached a No. 1 national ranking in seven of the 10 seasons with Dawkins on the coaching staff. While at Duke, he also served as the Player Personnel Director for the USA Basketball Senior National Team from 2006-08.
Dawkins’ Duke roots run deep. He played for the Blue Devils from 1983-86, earning Consensus All-America honors twice (1985, 1986). Dawkins was also voted as the 1986 Naismith National Player of the Year. During his collegiate career, he helped lead Duke to three NCAA Tournament berths, including an NCAA National Championship Game appearance in 1986. He was listed as an All-ACC honoree in all four seasons as a Blue Devil. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer and held that honor until 2006 when J.J. Redick surpassed his mark of 2,556 points. He recorded double-figure point totals in 129-of-133 collegiate games.
A 1986 first-round draft pick (10th overall) by San Antonio, Dawkins saw action in nine NBA seasons with the Spurs, 76ers and Pistons. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.5 assists over 541 career NBA games. 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.