GOAT COACH I coached LeBron James during high school career – now I’ve led Duquesne to March Madness for first time in 50 years

LeBron James has picked his favorite team for March Madness thanks to a special connection from decades ago.

LEBRON James’ former high school coach is making headlines again for leading an underdog into the March Madness field.

Keith Dambrot, a native of Akron, Ohio, is earning shoutouts on social media from LeBron James for his expert coaching of Duquesne basketball.

Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot has led his team to an unlikely March Madness bid

Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot has led his team to an unlikely March Madness bidCredit: Getty

Dambrot coached LeBron James in high school in the early 2000s

Dambrot coached LeBron James in high school in the early 2000sCredit: Getty
Dambrot kicked off his coaching career in the 80s, coaching at D-II schools Tiffin University and Ashland University.

At 32-years-old, Dambrot made the jump to Division I, coaching Central Michigan University for two years before being fired for controversial comments.

He was able to revive his career in 1998 though as a high school head coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron Ohio. His final two years as head coach of the school he had LeBron James on his roster and the duo won two state championships.

In 2004, Dambrot would finally return to Division I college basketball as a head coach for Akron, in which he would find large amounts of success.

The team made the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2011, and 2013 and went to the National Invitational Tournament in 2006 and 2008.

Dambrot won MAC Coach of the Year three times in 2013, 2016, and 2017, before leaving Akron in 2017 as the winningest coach in school history.

He had a 305-139 record in 13 seasons, with his teams averaging 23.5 wins per season under his coaching.

Dambrot moved on to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh for his next challenge in 2017.

Before arriving, the school finished 10-22 in 2016 and needed a major overhaul.

In his first season, Dambrot pulled the Dukes up to a 16-16 record and then to a 19-13 record in his second season, their first winning season since 2012.
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The 2019-20 season saw Duquesne start at a rapid pace, getting off to a 10-0 start and finishing 11-7 in conference play. However, due to the Covid pandemic, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled, which they likely would have made.

Duquesne didn’t waver under Dambrot though, and this year the Dukes stormed forward through the Atlantic 10 tournament to win their conference and secure an automatic bid into March Madness, their first bid since 1977.

This feat had LeBron celebrating his old coach on Twitter, singing praises for him and Duquesne basketball.

“YESSIRRR!! Punch that ticket to the Big Dance @DuqMBB!!!” LeBron tweeted.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Love you Coach Dambrot & @CoachDruJoyce.”

Dambrot is ending his career on a high note, announcing his retirement from coaching following the completion of Duquesne’s season.

“I was about 80 percent sure I was going to retire at the end of the summer,” Dambrot said at a press conference.

“But then when my wife (Donna) got sick, I think that was the crowning blow for me. I just decided before the season that this was going to be it for me.”

James played for Dambrot at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron Ohio

James played for Dambrot at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron OhioCredit: Getty

Dambrot led Duquesne to their first March Madness bid since 1977

Dambrot led Duquesne to their first March Madness bid since 1977Credit: Getty

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