What black coaches are legendary in college and/or professional basketball?

By 2012 many black coaches had achieved as team leaders. These include Johnny (John B.) “Coach Mac” McLendon Jr. (1915–1999), the first black coach of a predominantly white professional team in modern times. John Chaney (1932–) became the first black basketball coach at Temple University in 1982, and the next year George Henry Raveling (1937–) became the University of Iowa’s first black head basketball coach. John Robert Thompson Jr. (1941–) became a legend at Georgetown in 1984, when he was the first black coach to win the NCAA Division I championship. In 1995 Lenny (Leonard) R. Wilkens (1937–) coached for the Atlanta Hawks and became the winningest coach in NBA history. The University of Georgia named Tubby (Orlando) Smith (1951–) its first black head coach in 1995; in 1997 he became the first black men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. Others in the South included Nolan Richardson (1941–), who in 1986 became the first black coach at the University of Arkansas and the first in the Southwestern Conference, and Robert Oran Evans (1946–), who in 1992 was the first black head coach at the University of Mississippi. There was also Wade Houston, the first black head coach of a major sport in the Southeast Conference in 1989, when he was head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.

Clarence Edward “Bighouse” Gaines Sr. (1923–2005) led the Winston-Salem Rams of Winston-Salem State University to national prominence when they became the first black college, and the first college in the entire South, to win the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) College Division Basketball championship in 1967. Gaines never had a losing season. His players, like many others in the black colleges, helped to strengthen professional basketball when the game was integrated.


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