Johnny Dawkins

UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins huddling with players during a timeout Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the VCU Rams. The Knights would go on to win the game 73-58. 

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Why would you want to play against family if you don’t have to?

That’s what Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski said on Saturday when asked about coaching against someone that has both played and worked for him, referring to UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins. The bond between the two has grown to where they consider each other family.

“We're always going to be in touch,” Johnny Dawkins said. “That's just going to happen. I can't say the frequency, but we're always in touch — Of course, we follow each other's progress and see how each other's team is playing and stuff. So I would say quite frequently.”

Krzyzewski said that Johnny Dawkins has done a fabulous job of establishing UCF's program and that they're having a historical season. 

Johnny Dawkins was recruited by Krzyzewski over 37 years ago to play for the Blue Devils, a program that at the time, wasn't as strong. He said he believed in his vision for the team and painted a great vision for his career, despite not having the success he has had now.

“One, of course, Coach [Krzyzewski],” he said. "He hadn't accomplished what he's accomplished now. He's arguably the greatest college coach to coach our game, but back then I still had a belief in who I thought he could become. He painted a really good vision for us as a team, what he thought we could do. He painted a great vision for me, what he thought my career could be like. So that trust in him, that person was important.”

During his collegiate career, Johnny Dawkins averaged 19.2 points, four rebounds and 4.2 assists a game. After his playing career ended, he began his coaching career working for Krzyzewski for 10 seasons. During this time, he was the associate head coach for nine seasons. He then left Duke to take the head coaching job at Stanford.

During his days working under Krzyzewski, Johnny Dawkins' son, UCF redshirt junior guard Aubrey Dawkins, spent a lot of time around the Duke program at young age.

“I spent a lot of time around the guys, especially growing up,” Aubrey Dawkins said. “Chris Duhon, Dahntay Jones, all kinds of players I can list off. And just seeing them as I worked out and worked out in the gym after practice was done or working out in the college gym. So, yeah, a lot of good memories.”

Even though Johnny Dawkins isn’t playing or working for Krzyzewski anymore, Johnny Dawkins said that he’s his coach for the rest of his life.

“Once someone's coached you, they're your coach for the rest of your life,” he said. “That's how it is. I have, of course, the utmost respect for Coach and his program. I was a part of it and loved it, and I love Coach. So that's easy.”

Johnny Dawkins will lead the Knights tomorrow afternoon against the Krzyzewski-led Duke Blue Devils with a Sweet 16 berth on the line. Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m.

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