D.C. High School Basketball Coach J. Herman Daves Jr.
Friday, December 2, 2005
J. Herman Daves Jr., 82, a retired teacher and basketball coach for four D.C. public high schools, died Nov. 17 at Washington Hospital Center of complications after a head injury from a fall.
Mr. Daves, who lived in Washington, taught health and physical education for 34 years, 29 of them in the District, at Armstrong, Dunbar, Western and Ballou senior high schools. He was athletic director and chairman of the physical education department at Western and Ballou. He also coached for three years in the early 1950s at Howard University.
He coached a number of prominent players, but he never kept win-loss records for his career. His teams at Western in the 1960s and Ballou in the 1970s and early 1980s were legendary, a Washington Post sports article said upon his retirement in 1984. They included such well-known prep players as Jeff O'Neal, Lawrence "Catfish" Bradford, Floyd Lewis, LaMar McCoy, Garland Pinkston, Andrew White, Larry Watson and Curtis Perry at Western, and brothers Charles "Jitty" and Randolph Campbell at Ballou.
"I had good players who worked hard and believed in themselves," Mr. Daves said. "I was especially proud of Perry, who was mediocre but worked extra hard and went on to play nine years in the NBA [for Milwaukee and Phoenix]. White may have been the best all-around player I ever had because he did so many things for three years for us. And Catfish was a great player."
Mr. Daves was proud that he never scouted or recruited junior high school players, working instead with the students who came to his school. His biggest thrill, he said, was when his Ballou team defeated the then-top-ranked St. Anthony's High School team, which was coached by John Thompson, who would later become famous as Georgetown University's basketball coach.
Mr. Daves was known for his work with city's Department of Parks and Recreation; the D.C. Coaches Association, which he served as president; and the Kiwanis Club of the Southwest Waterfront, which named him Kiwanian of the Year in 1985-86. He was honorary chairman of the City Title basketball championship in 1985 and an honoree at the Interhigh basketball tournament in 1990-91.
Born in Cincinnati and raised in Knoxville, Mr. Daves graduated from Talladega College in Alabama and received a master's degree in physical education from the University of Illinois in 1950. During World War II, he served as a sergeant in the Army in England and France.
He coached and taught at Dillard University in New Orleans in 1950 before moving to Washington in 1952 to take a job at Howard, where he taught until 1955.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Shirley Jean Lewis of Washington; three children, Cheryl Wilburn of Washington, Michael Daves of Phoenixville, Pa., and Brian Daves of Charlotte; a brother, Charles Daves of Princeton, N.J.; a sister, Carolyn Reinhardt of Washington; and two grandchildren.