2021 Recipient - Dave Yanai, Cal State Dominguez Hills/Los Angeles

2021 Recipient - Dave Yanai, Cal State Dominguez Hills/Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 18, 2020) – Dave Yanai will receive the John R. Wooden Award®’s “Legends of Coaching™” honor in 2021. Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law Craig Impelman was proud to announce his selection at the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Virtual Wooden Award Tip-Off Luncheon. The virtual event featured the head coaches from the Division I men’s basketball programs in Southern California. The “Legends of Coaching” honor recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standard of coaching success and personal integrity.

The “Legends of Coaching” award was adopted by the Wooden Award Steering Committee in 1999. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. He will be presented the honor along with the 2021 Wooden Award winners on April 9, 2021.

Dave Yanai, the first Japanese-American head basketball coach at any level of college basketball, considered John Wooden to be one of his mentors, along with Cal’s Pete Newell. Overall, Coach Yanai spent 28 years coaching in the Los Angeles area at Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Dominguez Hills and finished with over 400 victories, only the second California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) coaches to hit that milestone. More than the success on the court, when former players are asked about playing for him, they talk about learning the value of teamwork, integrity and commitment. Over Yanai’s coaching career, hundreds of former players and colleagues were touched by him, learning valuable life lessons that helped achieve their own personal success.

Yanai spent 19 seasons as head coach at CSUDH, where his Toro teams advanced to the 1981, 1987 and 1989 NCAA Tournaments.  In addition, he guided the Toros to the 1979 NAIA National Championship Elite Eight after winning the NAIA District III Championship in only his second year in Carson.

Individually, he claimed the 1979 District Coach of the Year, the 1987 NCAA West Region Coach of the Year and two-consecutive CCAA Coach of the Year Awards (1987 and 1988).  Yanai also coached 34 All-CCAA Conference, two CCAA Athletes of the Year, eight NCAA All-West Region, two NCAA All-Americans and one NCAA Division II Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He is the all-time winningest coach in CSUDH history.

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  • Diana Kurashima
    commented 2022-05-19 20:42:47 -0700
    While I am very happy that a well deserving, outstanding Japanese American coach is being recognized he is not the first. Bill Kajikawa was a head coach of basketball, baseball and football at ASU starting in 1947 and was recognized by several organizations including JANM, the American Legion and US Congress for his outstanding service to sport and to our nation, 1937-1979. (He took a small break from coaching to serve in the 442 during WWII)
  • Chris Acker
    published this page in Legends Of Coaching 2022-02-16 13:39:30 -0800