For a guy who loves to steer clear of the spotlight, Don Donoher couldn’t avoid it Wednesday night. More than 400 people came out to celebrate the Dayton Flyers Hall of Fame coach as he was honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association with the Dean Smith Award.
“It’s a real tribute to not an individual but the university,” Donoher said. “We have a lot of players here and former coaches and I’m just blown away by the size of the crowd.”
»ARCHDEACON: Dean Smith Award says it all about Donoher
Donoher is only the third coach to be honored with the Dean Smith award, joining John Thompson Sr. of Georgetown and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
More than 30 of Donoher’s former players were among the crowd, including current Flyers head coach Anthony Grant who joins his mentor as the only other player to also become the Dayton head coach.
“I think all of us that had a chance to play for coach know where his heart is,” Grant said. “We know who he is as a man, who he was as a coach, and what he stands for. All that stuff stays with you for the rest of your life.”
Veteran sportswriter Seth Davis served as master of ceremonies for the event at the university’s River Campus. Also a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports, Davis said that Donoher’s selection was an obvious choice.
“The values that Dean Smith represented and embodied, and lived through his actions and not his words, that’s coach Donoher,” Davis said. “Humble, gracious, intelligent, class…he served the game of basketball and that’s what we are honoring tonight.”