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Charles "Lefty" Driesell: A Basketball Legend

Termed the greatest program builder in the history of college basketball by no less an authority than longtime TV analyst Billy Packer, Charles “Lefty” Driesell is the first coach to lead four NCAA schools to over 100 career wins each. Despite never enjoying the advantages of coaching at one of the traditional powers like a Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, or North Carolina, he was the fourth winningest Division I coach of all-time at the time of his retirement with 786 victories.

Yet, while considered a great motivator, promoter, and recruiter at four previously little recognized basketball outposts, Davidson College, the University of Maryland, James Madison University, and Georgia State, he has often been disregarded for long deserved accolades. His coaching acumen has been questioned and the transcendent status he deserves within the game has been overlooked. In addition, because of the undeserved blame he bore for the illegal actions of another, he lost two years of continued success and endured a stigma that has limited his legacy ever since.

In Charles "Lefty" Driesell: A Basketball Legend, F. Martin Harmon, a former colleague of Coach Driesell’s at Georgia State, refutes such perceived notions, finally acknowledging “Lefty” as a great coach who devised ways to win regardless of the talent on hand – someone who motivated not only teams but entire fan bases. Thirty-three of his players were NBA draft picks, including nine in the first round; ten were All-Americans even though two of the best he ever signed never played a minute for him; three were Olympians, two were Rhodes Scholars, and 90 percent of the players he had for four years left with a college degree. This is his story – the story of a college head coach from age 28 to 72 known to generations of fans as “The Old Lefthander,” or more famously, just “Lefty.”

With direct access to his great stories, personal files, and correspondence; after hours of one-on-one interviews with him, his colleagues, players, and former assistants; and extensive research of the books and articles written about his time in the game, it’s the first biography of a great coach who accelerated opportunities for African-Americans; who ushered in new ways of recruiting; and who created such things as Midnight Madness and money-back ticket guarantees to drive interest, exposure, and most of all attendance.

Copyright F. Martin Harmon 2014

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