After senior center William Mosley got a near-perfect score in the Denny's Slam Dunk Challenge televised live on ESPN Thursday night, Demons coach Mike McConathy took his place alongside some of the biggest names in college basketball Sunday night at the 2012 AT&T National Association of Basketball Coaches Awards Show.
Mosley teamed up with junior point guard Shamir Davis to wow the celebrity judges Thursday night, even though he didn't make it among the top four scorers who advanced to the semifinals. One of eight contestants in the dunk contest, and the second in the lineup, Mosley took a pass from Davis off the backboard and did a 360-degree twisting slam that earned a near-perfect score of 37 from the judges. The dunk made ESPN's Top 10 Plays of the Day, a compilation of the top 10 dunks in the contest through all three rounds.
Sunday night, McConathy stood in the spotlight on stage along acclaimed coaches such as Tom Izzo, Lon Kruger and Rollie Massimino, 2012 major college players of the year Anthony Davis of national champion Kentucky and Draymond Green of Michigan State, and media heavyweights Jim Nantz and Tim Brando of CBS Sports.
McConathy received the 2012 NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Education.
It is among the most prestigious awards presented by the NABC, representing one of the four core values of the Guardians of the Game program – education, leadership, advocacy and service.
This was our game's version of the Academy Awards. It was just first class all the way, and there was a Who's Who of College Basketball in that theater," said Demon assistant basketball coach Jeff Moore. "We were fortunate to have our basketball staff and several great supporters of our program in the audience to see Coach McConathy receive the award and make an outstanding acceptance speech.
Then Tim Brando got up and talked about Coach and his background and what he's all about, and that was just the perfect finishing touch of class," said Moore.
McConathy, coach of the Demons since 1999 and a college coach since starting the program at Bossier Parish Community College in 1983, has constantly promoted educational values for, and with, his players. Nearly 85 percent of the seniors in his NSU program have graduated. The Demons received a perfect Academic Progress Rate score in the NCAA’s most recent report last May and have consistently ranked among state, Southland Conference and even national leaders in that study and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate in McConathy’s 13 seasons.
The son of career educators, McConathy has a master’s degree plus 30 hours in education from NSU. He is noted in his home community of Shreveport-Bossier for promoting life skills and values in his annual Hoops for Kids camps for children held late each summer. His NSU teams make a stream of visits to elementary, junior high and high schools to promote positive life choices and the importance of education.
This season, McConathy and the Demons took part in a highly successful NABC-supported reading program involving middle school students in nearby Zwolle and led by teacher Pamela Taylor. More than 100 students in grades 5-8 had reading goals to pursue, with McConathy making regular campus visits to inspire the children.
Parts of a testimonial letter from Taylor supporting the nomination of McConathy for the award were read to the audience Sunday night.
One of the Demons’ players, freshman Marvin Frazier, is a Zwolle product and accompanied McConathy on one of the school visits. At the end of the program in February, the students attended a Demons’ game in Prather Coliseum and those who met their reading goals received Demon camp basketball and other prizes, and some joined the team in the locker room before the game.
McConathy is the second-winningest college basketball coach in state history. Combined with 352 wins at BPCC, he has 552 career victories, second only to the 572 by Grambling’s Fred Hobdy.
For the fourth straight year, McConathy is part of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 voting panel, and for the second consecutive year, he served this season on the NCAA’s coaches’ regional advisory committee for the South Central region, assisting in the selection process for the NCAA Tournament.