With Dean Smith’s legacy as a champion for racial equality and as one of college basketball’s G.O.A.T.S, it’s only fitting that the inaugural winner of the award named in his honor would be know for the same principles.
The United State’s Basketball Writers Association has announced that Georgetown legend John Thompson will be presented with the first Dean Smith Award.
“We think John Thompson is the perfect choice as the first winner of the Smith award,” said USBWA President Pat Forde. “We wanted the winner to be someone Dean Smith would be proud to present the award to if he was here to do it. We think, with John, we have that and we know we have someone who Coach Smith’s family is thrilled to honor.”
Thompson was the first African-American coach to take a team to the Final Four, where his national championship dreams were spoiled in the title game by Dean Smith’s Tar Heels, led by a young Michael Jordan.
“You are hitting me in my soft spot,” Thompson said when informed he had been selected. “There was no one in basketball I loved or respected more than Dean Smith. There was never anyone like him.”
John Thompson will be presented with the Dean Smith Award on November 10th in Chapel Hill. Tickets to the award dinner go on sale September 11th.
H/T: Go Heels