Long respected as one of the premier educators in Division II collegiate basketball, Cal State L.A. head coach Dave Yanai (Gardena resident) received recognition as an outstanding coach at the John R. Wooden Awards Ceremony held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
The 20-year old award is given annually to an individual who exemplifies the outstanding qualities set by the legendary coach, such as: placing the highest standards of commitment to his/her student-athletes; significant contributions to his/her community, as well as to the southern California basketball community; and is a quintessential teacher with the ability to embrace various cultures in understanding the sport of basketball.
"Coach Dave Yanai is well-deserving of this award," said Sam Lagana, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Athletic Club John Wooden Award. "He was the unanimous choice of the selection committee. We also tried to make it a very special evening for him - to touch his heart - and I believe we were successful."
"It was a total surprise," said Yanai. "I was just so grateful to Coach Wooden, the selection committee, and the Los Angeles Athletic Club for this very special honor. It took my breath away."
Fourth-year Golden Eagle head coach Dave Yanai guided his 1999-2000 squad to the NCAA Tournament (the second time in his Cal State L.A. tenure) and finished with a 19-9 overall record, the most wins for a men's basketball team since the 1958-59 season.
Currently, Yanai ranks 28th among Division II's winningest active coaches with 355 victories. In 1997-98, he guided the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament, losing in the regional semifinals to eventual national champion UC Davis, 53-51 on the Aggies' home court. In 1998-99, the Golden Eagles missed going to the NCAA's by a one-point defeat to Sonoma State.
Yanai began his tenure at Cal State L.A. after spending 19 years at CCAA rival CS Dominguez Hills. While with the Toros, Yanai advanced three teams to the NCAA West Regionals (1989, 1987 and 1981) and five teams to the CCAA postseason tournament (1992-94, 1989 and 1987). Yanai also guided the Toros to the 1979 NAIA District III championships where he garnered NAIA District III Coach of the Year honors.
Additionally, Yanai earned 1987 NCAA West Region Coach of the Year accolades and is a two-time CCAA Coach of the Year honoree. Prior to CSUDH, he spent 10 years coaching in the high school ranks.
As the first Japanese-American head coach at any level nationally, Yanai has also collected several other basketball distinctions in his career. He was selected as an assistant coach for the 1990 United States Olympic Festival West Team and is currently an advisor and consultant for the Japan National Team.
Over the years, Yanai has also established strong community ties. Since 1959, he has been a charter member and advisor for the Gardena Friends of Richard (FOR) Youth Sports Organization. He has also been a consultant for the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Summer Sports Addict Program, a drug prevention organization.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News