Johnny Dawkins was named UCF’s seventh head men’s basketball coach on Mar. 23, 2016 and has had immediate success in his first two seasons with the Knights.
Dawkins took over a 12-18 squad that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012-13 and led the Knights to a 24-12 record in his first season at the helm, the sixth best turnaround in the nation. With just seven scholarship players due to transfers and injuries, the Knights earned the fourth seed – their highest ever – in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, eventually falling to league champion SMU in the semifinals.
A season full of firsts, UCF hosted its first NIT game in 2016-17, defeating Colorado for the program’s first ever win in an NIT or NCAA Tournament game. The Knights went on to defeat top seeded Illinois State on the road, before coming home to the first ever sell-out crowd at CFE Arena and winning 68-58 over Illinois to earn a spot in the NIT Final Four.
Under Dawkins’ leadership, UCF led all of NCAA Division I in defensive field goal percentage in 2016-17, holding opponents to just 36.5 percent from the floor. The Knights were also sixth in the nation, allowing only 61.2 points per game, and gave up 45 or less points in four games over the course of the year.
Dawkins was named a finalist for both the Jim Phelan and Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year awards his first season at UCF, but he also guided a number of his players to accomplishments along the way.
2016-17 Individual Honors
• Tacko Fall was named The American Defensive Player of the Year, Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America, and finalist for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award
• B.J. Taylor earned Second Team All-Conference honors from The American after leading UCF with 17.4 points per game
• Matt Williams set new UCF records for three-pointers in a career, in a season and in a game, before signing a professional contract with the Miami Heat
In year two at the helm, Dawkins had to deal with significant injuries to his three best players. His son, Aubrey Dawkins, missed the entire season with a shoulder injury, B.J. Taylor missed the first half of the season, and Tacko Fall missed the second half of the year. Taylor and Fall only played one game together.
Through the injuries, Dawkins led the Knights to a 19-13 record, second only to his first season record in the last five years of UCF Basketball. The team also had a number of firsts in year two under Dawkins.
Firsts in 2017-18
• First win over UConn at home and first since joining The American
• First win over SMU since joining The American
• First win over Memphis on the road
• First win over a ranked opponent in a true road game, defeating No. 24 Alabama
And the defense was as good as ever in Dawkins’ second year coaching the Black and Gold.
Defensive Accomplishments in 2017-18
• Held three opponents under 40 points
-- Before the season, UCF had only held two opponents to less than 40 points in 33-year Division I history
• Set new school record, holding SMU to 37 points
• Ranked third in the nation, holding opponents to 61.7 points per game
• Ranked 10th in the nation, holding opponents to 40.1 percent from the field
In two years, Johnny Dawkins has led UCF to new heights on the basketball court, but he has done an even better job with his players in the classroom. With Dawkins at the helm, the Knights men’s basketball program recorded an average semester team GPA over 3.0 for the first time in recorded history. They then did it again, setting a new program record with an average semester GPA of 3.03 this spring.
Stanford put together four 20-win seasons in Dawkins’ tenure 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. During the 2015-16 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. 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.
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.
LEARNING FROM A LEGEND
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.
Following a prolific high school career at Mackin Catholic in Washington, D.C., Dawkins made his way to Duke, where he would become one of the most decorated players to step foot in Durham, North Carolina.
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 and named a Freshman All-American in 1983. 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.
Dawkins 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. Dawkins led the Blue Devils in scoring all four years, recording the fourth-highest season point total in school history with 809 in 1986. Dawkins remains Duke’s career record-holder in field goals (1,026) and field goals attempted (2,019) while also owning the school’s best single-season mark for field goals (331) during the 1986 campaign.
Dawkins was inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in September 1996. His jersey number 24 was retired by the school.
A 1986 first-round draft pick (10th overall) by San Antonio, Dawkins saw action in nine NBA seasons with the Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.5 assists over 541 career NBA games.
GIVING BACK TO THE GAME
Dawkins has served as a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches 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.