They say that those who can’t do, teach. In sports, that phrase translates to those who can’t play should coach. Of course, we know that’s not the case because there have been plenty of great players who also turned out to be great coaches. Obviously, being a great player doesn’t always translate to leading great players, but here are a few college basketball stars who turned into exceptional college basketball coaches.
As a player at Duke, Dawkins was twice named an All-American and earned National Player of the Year honors as a senior when he led the Blue Devils to the national title game. He played early in Coach K’s tenure and played a huge hand in Duke becoming a national power. As a coach, Dawkins has done some nice things as well. During his eight years at Stanford, he won the NIT twice and led the Cardinal on a surprise run to the Sweet 16 in 2014. He then found himself at Central Florida, taking the Golden Knights to the Big Dance in 2019 when they nearly pulled off an upset of Coach K and Duke in the Round of 32.
Surprise, surprise, another former Duke player makes our list. As a player, he helped the Blue Devils win back-to-back national titles, earning Final Four MOP honors in 1992. Hurley was then an All-American as a senior and later the 7th overall pick in the draft. He began his coaching career with two seasons at Buffalo, winning MAC Coach of the Year both years before getting hired at Arizona State. Hurley took over a program without much of a track record but had the Sun Devils in the NCAA Tournament by his third season with brighter days no doubt ahead.
Hoiberg was a star player at Iowa State and returned to the Cyclones 15 years later. He inherited a program that missed by NCAA Tournament in five straight years. By his fourth season, the Cyclones were in the Sweet 16 and ranked in the top-10. The only mistake Hoiberg made was leaving Iowa State for the NBA. His successor, Steve Prohm, has done a nice job while tries to fix an utter disaster in Nebraska.
Technically, Donovan is coaching in the NBA nowadays, but he had a heck of a run with Florida. He coached the Gators to back-to-back national championships and took the Gators to the Sweet 16 or further eight times in 18 seasons. Donovan was so great as a coach that most people forget he was a great player at Providence. As a senior, Donovan averaged over 20 points while helping the Friars reach the Final Four.
Most people don’t know Bennett as a player. He played at Wisconsin-Green Bay, where his father Dick Bennett was the head coach. Before a modest pro career, Tony helped the Phoenix win over 70% of their games and reach the NCAA Tournament in 1991, nearly upsetting Michigan State in the first round. Of course, Bennett’s coaching resume speaks for itself. He won National Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and 2018 while turning Virginia into a national power, culminating in the Cavaliers winning the 2019 national championship.