PHOENIX – Two current coaches and two former coaches will receive the prestigious Guardians of the Game Awards for advocacy, education, leadership and service from the National Association of Basketball Coaches at the annual AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show on Sunday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. (MST) at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. The awards show will be live streamed on Twitter.
The recipient of the Guardians Award for Advocacy is Lanny Van Eman who has had a long and varied career as a collegiate coach, a professional coach, an international coach and contributor to the growth of basketball. An All-Missouri Valley Conference standout for Wichita State in baseball and basketball, he was an assistant coach for six different NCAA Division I programs before a head coaching stint at the University of Arkansas for four seasons. He has coached internationally in China, Spain and Puerto Rico and in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics. Van Eman, a noted contributor to numerous magazines and professional journals, has also served the State of Arizona as the director of sports development.
T.J.Otzelberger, the recipient of the Guardians Award for Education, has been a passionate advocate of the NABC Stay In to Win program, which targets middle school youths and encourages them to stay in school. He used the program to help youth in Ames, Iowa, as an assistant at Iowa State with coaches Greg McDermott and Fred Hoiberg. A move to the University of Washington, followed by another stint at Iowa State, did not deter his enthusiasm for promoting the values of education. In 2016, Otzelberger was named head coach at South Dakota State University where, in addition to promoting the Stay in to Win program, he guided his team to the Summit League tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
A nominee for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Mater Dei High School head basketball coach Gary McKnight has led his teams to an incredible 1,084-98 won-lost record since 1983. In his 35 years as head coach of the Monarchs, McKnight’s teams average 31 wins and just three losses per season. He has been the recipient of almost every major high school coaching award including the 2014 Morgan Wooten Award for lifetime achievement in coaching high school basketball from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Monarchs won the 2014 national championship with a 35-0 record. Mater Dei has won 11 California state championships while McKnight ranks first nationally in winning percentage for active scholastic coaches at 92 percent.
The recipient of the Guardians Award for Service is Dan Hays, who retired after 33 years as head basketball coach at Oklahoma Christian University at the end of the 2015-16 season. Even in a state that has such a storied history of basketball coaches including Henry Iba, Abe Lemons and Eddie Sutton, anyone and everyone connected to basketball knows Hays. He is the winningest coach in Oklahoma history with 724 career victories. He recorded more wins at an Oklahoma university (653 at OC) than any other coach in the state’s history and has coached with Jim Boeheim and Lon Kruger on gold medal winning USA Basketball Junior World Championship teams. Hays was the driving force in building Oklahoma Christian Cage Camps, which drew thousands of youths to the OC campus each summer from as far away as several European nations and South Korea.
A complete list of NABC Guardians of the Game Awards recipients is available here.