Every year in the NCAA Tournament, players, coaches and personalities cross paths to show how small the college basketball world is. When No. 1 overall seed Duke plays No. 9 Central Florida Sunday (5:15 p.m. EST, CBS) in Columbia (S.C.), it’ll be a reunion of sorts for Knights’ head coach Johnny Dawkins and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Dawkins, the Naismith Player of the Year as a Blue Devils guard in 1986, assisted Coach K from 1998-2008 before taking over Stanford. He also brings along his son Aubrey, a star guard for UCF, to try to upset mighty Duke.
Naturally, Dawkins’ wife Tracy also has a long history with Duke. Here’s what you need to know about the woman behind the UCF head coach.
1. Tracy Played a Big Role in Securing Former Duke Guard Nolan Smith’s Commitment
Nolan Smith was a point guard at Duke from 2007-11, leading the Blue Devils to the 2010 NCAA title and earning consensus first-team All-American honors in 2011. It turns out Tracy Dawkins helped guide Smith to Durham.
In an article by ESPN’s Heather Dinich in 2008, she writes about Johnny and Tracy filled a mentorship role for Nolan after his father Derek passed away in 1996. Johnny and Derek played for the Philadelphia 76ers in the early 90s.
“(Johnny’s) role is definitely like a father figure here, and at the same time a coach and somebody who’s pushing me,” said Smith to Dinich. “He’s known my dad, my family for a long time. Me choosing Duke, I felt coming here I’d have that father figure I didn’t have growing up as a basketball player — you know, going to the gym with your dad, shooting around with your pops — that’s the experience I always wanted. Now I’m here with Coach Dawkins, I feel that love from him. I’m in a great place.”
Tracy, in particular, grew close with Smith’s mother Monica. She helped her friend get Nolan to various basketball events on time.
Because the Smiths and the Dawkinses were so close (Monica and Johnny Dawkins’ wife, Tracy, remain best friends), it was practically inevitable that Nolan wound up at Duke’s basketball camp as a middle schooler. Tracy Dawkins would make sure he had his alarm clock and blankets for camp and would drive him there.
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Smith in the 2011 first-round. After a short career, he is now the director of basketball operations for, you guessed it…Duke.
2. Johnny Once Joked That Tracy Usually Sides With Her Son Aubrey
Aubrey Dawkins didn’t always play for his father at UCF. As a 3-star recruit out of Palo Alto (Calif.), the younger Dawkins didn’t even receive a Stanford offer when dad was leading the Cardinal.
Dawkins eventually enrolled at Michigan. After two years, he transferred to UCF. Johnny became the Knights head coach after an acrimonious departure with Stanford in 2016.
Now father and son are coach and player, as well. Aubrey acknowledges that his dad doesn’t take it easy on him in an article with NCAA.com.
“And that’s your dad. He’s going to know everything about you. He’s going to know when you’re not giving 100 percent. There’s no shortcuts, there’s no getting by.
“I would love to be the caliber player that he was, but he knows and I know that I’m going to do it my own way. I can’t be him, I never will be able to be him, but I can still be a really good basketball player. I don’t let who he was and what he did affect who I am and what I do. That’s made it a much easier game for me.”
Johnny joked that when conflicts do arise, Tracy typically sides with Aubrey.
“I know where her loyalty lies, and it’s not with me,” Johnny said. “I’ve been on the couch a few times already.”
Aubrey averages over 16 points a game for UCF this season.
3. At the End of the Day, Though, The Family Loves Being Reunited in Orlando
With Johnny and Aubrey reunited with Tracy in Orlando, the Dawkins family is a tight-knit unit. It’s even led to other family members coming home, partly due to Tracy’s cooking prowess. Per an article from Sports Link:
Two of Aubrey’s older siblings, Sean and Jillian, have since moved to Orlando, with Johnny applying the pressure to his oldest, Blair, to join them. Aubrey says he’s texting or talking with family members every day now, something he didn’t do as often at Michigan. And Johnny knows how to get Aubrey over to the family home. “Whenever my wife is cooking a meal,” he says, “you don’t have to worry, he’s going to show up.”
Dawkins and his wife Tracy have 4 children overall. Aubrey Dawkins (20), and then the oldest Blair (24), Sean (23), Jillian (22).
4. Tracy Thinks Johnny is a Bit of a Neat-Nick
In a profile on Johnny during the beginning of his career at Stanford, Tracy mentioned that her husband is incredibly detail-oriented, and a bit of a neat-nick.
“Everything that pertains to him is neat, very precise. Everything has its place,” said Tracy to SF Gate in 2008. “He says if you’re not five minutes early, you’re late.”
That precision led to 2 NIT Championships and a Sweet 16 appearance during Johnny’s Stanford tenure. He finished with a 156-115 record.
This detail-oriented nature extends to his romantic gestures. An Orlando Sentinel tweet relayed a message from him that he “confirmed he did get his wife some chocolate candy since he had to work tonight on Valentine’s Day,” last year while at UCF.
5. At One Point, the Dawkins Lived in Bahama
According to the Duke Media Guide in 2006-07, the family resided in Bahama, a suburb just north of Durham.
The 43-year-old Dawkins graduated from Duke in 1986 with a degree in political science. He and his wife, Tracy, reside in Bahama with their four children — Aubrey, Jillian, Blair and Sean.
This is not to be confused with the Bahamas, the island chain in the Caribbean.