Dave Yanai Named 2021 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Recipient

Dave Yanai Named 2021 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Recipient

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, one of only three 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.


John R. Wooden Award

Legends of Coaching Honorees


2021      Dave Yanai, Cal State Dominguez Hills/Los Angeles

2020      C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers

2019      Lon Kruger, Oklahoma   

2018      Jay Wright, Villanova

2017      Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame

2016      Tubby Smith, Texas Tech

2015      Steve Fisher, San Diego State

2014      Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

2013      Bill Self, Kansas

2012      Geno Auriemma, Connecticut

2011      Tom Izzo, Michigan State

2010      Billy Donovan, Florida

2009      Rick Barnes, Texas

2008      Pat Summitt, Tennessee

2007      Gene Keady, Purdue

2006      Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

2005      Jim Calhoun, Connecticut

2004      Mike Montgomery, Stanford

2003      Roy Williams, Kansas

2002      Denny Crum, Louisville

2001      Lute Olson, Arizona

2000      Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

1999      Dean Smith, North Carolina


About the John R. Wooden Award

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All America Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. Honorees have proven to their university that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Kevin Durant (’07), Candace Parker (’07; ’08), Maya Moore (’09; ’11), Chiney Ogwumike (’14), and last year’s recipients, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and Obi Toppin of Dayton.

Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed nearly one million dollars to the universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the Wooden Award All American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament brings together Special Olympics athletes and Wooden Award All Americans and coaches in attendance. It is hosted at the Los Angeles Athletic Club during the John R. Wooden Award Weekend.

The Legends of Coaching Award will be presented along with the Wooden Award Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year Friday, April 9, 2020. For up-to-date information on the Wooden Award, please go to www.woodenaward.com and follow the Wooden Award on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodenaward and @WoodenAward on Twitter and Instagram.


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  • Brian Takao
    published this page in News & Media 2020-11-18 12:33:58 -0800