D'Antoni to speak at Big Atlantic Classic banquet

Marshall head coach Dan D'Antoni will be the guest speaker at the 31st annual Big Atlantic Classic Tip-Off Banquet Sunday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

A Wyoming County native who knows a thing or two about high school basketball in southern West Virginia will hold court Sunday afternoon.

Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the 31st annual Big Atlantic Classic Tip-Off Banquet Sunday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

D’Antoni is known nationally for his experience in the NBA and, now, as the head coach of the Thundering Herd. But he cut his teeth in the fertile basketball ground of Wyoming County.

He is the son of Mullens coaching legend Lewis D’Antoni and his younger brother Mike D’Antoni is the coach of the Houston Rockets. He played at Mullens High School, where he was a first-team all-stater.

After high school, D’Antoni went on to play at Marshall. He was the starting point guard on Thundering Herd teams that went to back-to-back National Invitation Tournaments in 1967 and 1968.

D’Antoni finished his Herd career as a 1,000-point scorer and was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.

His coaching career began in 1970 when he was named the head coach of Marshall’s freshman team. Among the players he coached was his brother Mike.

D’Antoni then began a 30-year career as the head coach at Socastee (S.C.) High School. He won over 500 career games and created this prestigious Beach Ball Classic.

He was elected to the South Carolina High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.

D’Antoni joined Mike in the NBA in 2005, first for three seasons with the Phoenix Suns. He then followed Mike to the New York Knicks for four seasons and Los Angeles Lakers for two.

He also served as the head coach of the Knicks and Lakers NBA Summer League teams.

D’Antoni was introduced as Marshall’s head coach in 2014 and eventually took the Herd to unprecedented heights. The highlight so far has been the 2017-18 season, when Marshall won the Conference USA tournament and earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1987.

Marshall went in as a 13 seed and upset No. 4 Wichita State in the first round before falling to West Virginia in the round of 32.

Tickets for the banquet are available at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center box office by calling 304-252-7361 and online at beckleyconventioncenter.com. Floor tickets are $40 and include a steak dinner. Balcony seats, which don’t include the meal, are available for $7.50 for adults and $2.50 for students.

Doors will open at 11:15 a.m., with a VIP reception for Platinum Club members at 11:30. The dinner will begin at 12:30 p.m., with the speaker scheduled to begin at approximately 1:30.

The Big Atlantic Classic will run from Monday through Saturday at the Convention Center and will include middle school and high school divisions, featuring top boys’ and girls’ teams from across West Virginia.

A schedule has not yet been released.

Email: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber

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