Ten moments: A look back at career of Anthony Grant

Anthony Grant coaches with VCU against Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament on March 15, 2007 in Buffalo, New York. Getty Images photo
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Anthony Grant coaches with VCU against Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament on March 15, 2007 in Buffalo, New York. Getty Images photo

Anthony Grant has seen it all in 30 years of coaching, but little compares to what he witnessed this season as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Grant left a job coaching Russell Westbrook, who’s in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history, to coach the Dayton Flyers. UD announced Grant’s hiring Thursday and will introduce him at a press conference at 1 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.

NBA great Scottie Pippen said of Westbrook, “It’s the greatest season I’ve ever seen.” Grant would probably agree. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double: 31.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

“He’s one of a kind, I’ll tell you,” Grant said Thursday on Sports Talk with Lance McAlister on 700 WLW. “Sometimes it hits you that you’re watching history.”

Grant’s road to Oklahoma City and his path to Dayton began when he started coaching junior varsity basketball in his hometown in Miami, Fla., not long after graduating from UD in 1987. In the decades since, he has had ups and downs like any coach, but Dayton couldn’t have found a coach with more experience. Here’s a look back at 10 big moments in Grant’s career.

April 2006: VCU hires Grant

Two weeks after winning a national championship with Florida, Grant earned his first head college coaching job with Virginia Commonwealth. He spent the previous 12 seasons on Billy Donovan’s staff: two at Marshall and 10 at Florida.

“Anybody who’s gone to Florida practices and watched him operate has had an eye on him,” former Dayton coach Don Donoher said at the time. “Pro teams were interested.”

March 2007: Grant leads VCU to big dance

Grant finished 28-7 in his first season at VCU. The Rams won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles. They were a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament and beat No. 6 seed Duke 79-77 in the first round. They lost 84-79 in overtime to No. 3 seed Pittsburgh in the second round.

Eric Maynor hit the game-winning shot against Duke with 1.8 seconds left.

"We felt like there were some things that we do that could cause them problems," Grant said at the time. "There were a lot of things that they do that caused us problems. But we felt if we could get the game going at the pace we wanted, we could be successful. It's being able to focus, not get caught up in the past history of what Duke has accomplished."

June 2007: Grant nearly returns to Florida

After his first season with VCU, for a brief moment it appeared Grant might return to Florida as head coach. Donovan accepted a job with the Orlando Magic. Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley flew to Richmond to talk to Grant, according to the Oklahoman newspaper, only to get a call from Donovan’s wife when his plane landed in Richmond.

Donovan had a change of a heart and decided to return to Florida, where he remained until 2015. Grant stayed at VCU for two more seasons.

March 2009: Alabama hires Grant

Alabama lost its coach, Mark Gottfried, to N.C. State after 11 seasons. Gottfried was 210-131 with five NCAA Tournament appearances at Alabama. That led to Grant being hired after three seasons at VCU. Grant was 76-25 at VCU.

“My family and I are very excited and grateful for the opportunity extended to us by Dr. Witt, Coach Moore and the University of Alabama,” Grant said at the time. “We have been given the opportunity to create a very special situation for men’s basketball at the University of Alabama and we look forward to getting started. There’s a commitment throughout the athletic department to make sure that we have the resources necessary to compete for championships.”

March 2012: Grant takes Alabama to the NCAA Tournament

Alabama finished 17-15 in Grant’s first season, 2009-10, and then 25-12 in 2010-11. It didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in Grant’s second season in part because of a non-conference strength of schedule that ranked 294th.

In 2012, Alabama did hear its name called on Selection Sunday for the first time since 2006. Alabama lost 58-57 to Creighton in the first round. Grant hoped it would set the stage for future tournament appearances.

"That's the goal," Grant said before the 2012 tournament. "You never know what a year's going to bring in terms of what happens over the course of a season. So I'm the type of guy, I live in the present. So right now our plan is to build a program that can sustain success and hopefully we're on our way to that, but my focus right now is on today. The opportunity that we have in front of us right now."

March 2014: Alabama AD supports Grant

After three straight 20-win seasons, Alabama slipped to 13-19 in 2013-14. Alabama AD Bill Battle announced after the season Grant would return for a sixth season. He wrote a letter in support of Grant.

“Over the last year I have spent a fair amount of time with Coach Anthony Grant,” Battle wrote. “I have watched our team practice. I have watched them play. We have had several philosophical discussions. In every meeting we have had, I came away impressed with his character, with his knowledge and belief in his approach to the game, with his commitment to win championships at Alabama, and with his ability to recruit and develop players, both on and off the court.”

March 2015: Alabama fires Grant

The Crimson Tide were 18-14 when Grant was fired. He didn’t finish the season. Assistant coach John Brannen, now the coach at Northern Kentucky, took the reins for two games in the NIT.

"This decision was reached only after a great deal of deliberation, but I feel it is in the best interests of the basketball program to make a change in leadership," Alabama athletics director Bill Battle said. "This has been a very difficult decision, as I have the highest respect for Anthony as a coach, as a molder of young men, and as a person."

Since firing Grant, Alabama has finished 18-15 and 19-15 in two seasons with Avery Johnson as coach.

April 2015: Grant reunites with Donovan

Grant told FloridaGators.com he planned to sit out a year and spend time with his family after being fired by Alabama, but then a spot opened up on Donovan's staff at Florida.

“Obviously, Anthony is one of my best friends,” Donovan said. “He’s also a great coach.”

May 2015: Grant joins Donovan in NBA

Not long after returning to Gainesville, Grant was on the move again because Donovan took the head coaching job with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Grant followed Donovan to the NBA.

"It's the trust factor. Billy Donovan wants to bring in a guy (he trusts)," said the Oklahoman's Anthony Slater at the time. "He doesn't know the NBA, and you worry about that in assistants. But (he) needs an assistant that knows him, that's been there with him, that's been through the fire.

March 2017: Grant comes home

Grant inherits a team with seven returning letterwinners. UD will have six newcomers next season, though Grant has to convince five players recruited by Archie Miller and his staff to stay with Dayton.


Anthony Grant’s resume

1987-92 Assistant coach, Miami Senior High School

1992-93: Head coach, Miami Central High School

1993-94: Assistant coach, Stetson University

1994-96: Assistant coach, Marshall University

1996-02: Assistant coach, University of Florida

2002-06: Associate head coach, University of Florida

2006-09: Head coach, Virginia Commonwealth University

2009-15: Head coach, University of Alabama

2015-17: Assistant coach, Oklahoma City Thunder

2017: Head coach, University of Dayton

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