Dayton's Anthony Grant and South Carolina's Dawn Staley named Naismith Coach of the Year

A season cut short can't stop reflection and recognition on some outstanding campaigns in both men's and women's college basketball. There were remarkable coaching jobs -- dozens -- in college hoops this past season. But two were particularly outstanding and memorable.

On Thursday, CBS Sports HQ revealed the winners for the Werner Ladder Naismith Men's and Women's Coach of the Year. On the men's side, Dayton's Anthony Grant, who has taken home most awards in that category in recent days and weeks, including here at CBS Sports. In women's basketball, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was an obvious choice to earn the honor.

South Carolina won a fifth SEC regular-season title under Staley, who coached her team to the best record in Division I -- men's or women's. The Gamecocks went 32-1 and were quite clearly the best team in women's hoops, if not the most dominant team in all of college. South Carolina went undefeated (16-0) in league play and wound up ending the season with a 26-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in men's and women's hoops at any level: D-I, D-II and D-III.

Staley won out over Arizona's Adia Barnes, Oregon's Kelly Graves and Northwestern's Joe McKeown. This is the first season in which Staley's won National Coach of the Year. She also won SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time.

By winning the award, Staley becomes the first person to win the Naismith Coach of the Year and Player of the Year (Staley was the Naismith Player of the Year for Virginia in 1991 and 1992.)  

On the men's side, Grant beat out Baylor's Scott Drew, San Diego State's Brian Dutcher and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton. What all four of those coaches had in common: they coached their programs to their best season in school history. Grant guided Dayton to a 29-2 record, the two losses tying Gonzaga and San Diego State for fewest in men's D-I basketball.

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But it's a particular fact that likely propelled Grant -- and will be part of this Dayton team's lore -- that helped him: the Flyers were undefeated in regulation. Their two losses came on neutral courts in overtime to would-be NCAA Tournament teams (projected No. 1 overall seed Kansas and projected No. 9 seed Colorado). Dayton ended its season on a 20-game winning streak, its 18-0 mark in the Atlantic 10 marking the first time since George Washington in 2006 that a team ran the table in that conference.

UD was the only team in men's college basketball to not lose a league game this season.

This Dayton team, led by Obi Toppin, Jalen Crutcher and Trey Landers, was of course special. Grant, a modest man who previously thrived at VCU and had a bumpy go of it at Alabama, returned to college basketball after two years away, sitting on the bench alongside his mentor, Billy Donovan, with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That NBA expedition clearly had its benefits for Grant, who becomes a rare example of a coach who was previously fired at a college job but nonetheless went on to win National Coach of the Year.

"I'm so happy for him," Donovan told CBS Sports. "He is one of my closest friends, he is a great, great human being. He's a way better person than he is as a coach. I always admired him and his character. I admire him, who he is as a person and I trust the guy explicitly. The award couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, a better guy who does things the right way."

Donovan shared a story about how beloved Grant was back in the mid-2000s, Florida's talented big men -- Joakim Noah and Al Horford -- were so invested in Grant that they briefly debated declaring for the NBA Draft, and not returning for the 2006-07 season, after Grant was offered the VCU job and told the team he was going to take it. It wasn't out of anger, it was out of devotion to Grant. Without him on staff, things wouldn't be the same. Turns out Grant's sense of loyalty was so strong, Donovan said he actually was going to back out of the VCU offer because of his dedication to Florida and those players.

Donovan wouldn't let him. Grant was taking that VCU job, no matter what. He did -- and Grant coached the Rams to the NCAA Tournament two times in three seasons, including the famous upset of Duke in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

"His mentality has always been to help invest in players, invest in coaches," Donovan said. "He's really an incredibly selfless guy. I think he's grounded. I think he's got the whole thing together. He's incredibly unassuming. He's not a networker, he's not a self-promoter. He never was out there trying to lobby for jobs. ... He's never looking for limelight, never looking for publicity, he just wanted to do the right thing and be as good of a coach as he can be and help his guys."

It's a particularly sweet postscript to a bittersweet end of the season, as Grant is a Dayton alumnus and in fact helped the Flyers make the NCAA Tournament in the mid-1980s. And in fact it was Donovan who wound up being the initial go-between for Dayton and Grant, helping arrange the two sides for an interview in Oklahoma City a few days before he officially took the job in 2017.

Now Grant has Dayton as high and good as it's ever been, coming off a 29-win season, a program record.

Men's all-time winners

YearPlayerSchool
2020 Anthony Grant Dayton
2019 Rick Barnes Tennessee
2018 Tony Bennett Virginia
2017 Mark Few Gonzaga
2016 Jay Wright Villanova
2015 John Calipari Kentucky
2014 Gregg Marshall Wichita State
2013 Jim Larranaga Miami
2012 Bill Self Kansas
2011 Steve Fisher San Diego State
2010 Jim Boeheim Syracuse
2009 Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh
2008 John Calipari Memphis
2007 Tony Bennett Washington State
2006 Jay Wright Villanova
2005 Bruce Weber Illinois
2004 Phil Martelli Saint Joseph's
2003 Tubby Smith Kentucky
2002 Ben Howland Pittsburgh
2001 Rod Barnes Ole Miss
2000 Mike Montgomery Stanford
1999 Mike Krzyzewski Duke
1998 Bill Guthridge North Carolina
1997 Roy Williams Kansas
1996 John Calipari UMass
1995 Jim Harrick UCLA
1994 Nolan Richardson Arkansas
1993 Dean Smith North Carolina
1992 Mike Krzyzewski Duke
1991 Randy Ayers Ohio State
1990 Bobby Cremins Georgia Tech
1989 Mike Krzyzewski Duke
1988 Larry Brown Kansas
1987 Bob Knight Indiana

Women's all-time winners

YearPlayerSchool
2020 Dawn Staley South Carolina
2019 Lisa Bluder Iowa
2018 Vic Schaefer Mississippi State
2017 Geno Auriemma UConn
2016 Geno Auriemma UConn
2015 Courtney Banghart Princeton
2014 Muffet McGraw Notre Dame
2013 Muffet McGraw Notre Dame
2012 Kim Mulkey Baylor
2011 Tara VanDerveer Stanford
2010 Connie Yori Nebraska
2009 Geno Auriemma UConn
2008 Geno Auriemma UConn
2007 Gail Goestenkors Duke
2006 Sylvia Hatchell North Carolina
2005 Pokey Chatman LSU
2004 Pat Summitt Tennessee
2003 Gail Goestenkors Duke
2002 Geno Auriemma UConn
2001 Muffet McGraw Notre Dame
2000 Geno Auriemma UConn
1999 Carolyn Peck Purdue
1998 Pat Summitt Tennessee
1997 Geno Auriemma UConn
1996 Andy Landers Georgia
1995 Geno Auriemma UConn
1994 Pat Summitt Tennessee
1993 Vivian Stringer Iowa
1992 Chris Weller Maryland
1991 Debbie Ryan Virginia
1990 Tara VanDerveer Stanford
1989 Pat Summitt Tennessee
1988 Leon Barmore Louisiana Tech
1987 Pat Summitt Tennessee
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. This is his 10th season reporting on college basketball for CBS. He also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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