Joe Dean Davidson, the highly successful basketball coach at Dunbar High School, has applied to become coach at Drake University.
If Davidson, who is one of 80 applicants, according to Drake Atheltic Director Bob Karnes, is selected, his two all-Americas, 6-foot-6 Anthony Jones and 6-8 Sylvester Charles, could join him at the Iowa school.
Neither Jones, who had narrowed his choices to Georgetown and North Carolina, nor Charles, who was leaning toward Wake Forest, have signed a letter of intent yet. Nor has 6-1 point guard Tyrone Scott. A source at North Carolina said yesterday the Tar Heels are out of the running for Jones.
Davidson said that if he got the Drake job, taking his players with him would be nice. But, he added, the fact the much-recruited Jones and Charles had not signed was not because they were waiting to see if he becomes a college coach. Interviews for the position at Drake have not begun and Davidson vehemently denied a package deal is involved.
The first report that Davidson had applied for the Drake job was made by Ken Beatrice on WMAL Radio Monday night.
Jones and Charles were unavailable for comment yesterday, but Jones told The Washington Post a month ago he would announce within a week his decision on the college he would attend. At that time, Wake Forest was almost certain that Charles' signing was imminent.
"Yes, I applied for the Drake job. And I also informed all my players that I had," Davidson said yesterday. "But we didn't sit down and have any discussion about them going with me if I got the job. Even if I was picked, there is no guarantee they'd want to come with me.
"It's strictly a coincidence Anthony and Sylvester are both still unsigned when this Drake job suddenly came open," Davidson said. "Both kids have been trying to make their decision all along between their original choices. It's tough for them. They told me they wanted to take their time and make the right decision."
Karnes said Drake's selection committee will make a decision by June 1, which, incidently, is the final day for national letters of intent to be signed.
"He (Davidson) is one of 80 applicants, that's about all I can say," Karnes said. "As far as using any players as leverage, our policy is we hire the man, not the players he can bring with him. We hire a coach on his merits and accomplishments. Now if he has players he can bring, that's a bonus."
Karnes also said there was no hard and fast rule about hiring a high school coach.
"We want a coach who, of course, can recruit. That's a big part of his job. The committee may lean toward an assistant college coach who has had experience in that area, and then again they may not. If we hired a professional player or an assistant pro coach who has never worked at the collegiate level, they wouldn't have that recruiting experience, either. There are lots of ramifications. We just want to hire a class guy, the best guy for Drake University."
Drake's basketball program has foundered the past 10 years.
Davidson said he thought the Drake job would be good opportunity, but wasn't sure he would be called for an interview.
"Right now, I don't even know what my position is," he said. "I just put in an application, that's all."
In eight years at Dunbar, Davidson has a 169-33 record, five Interhigh League championships and one city title.