Joe Dean Davidson sat alone in the bleachers the other day, tossing a basketball in the air and staring blankly at the mural-covered walls in Dunbar High School's gymnasium.

Two students were playing one-on-one basketball, hoping to bring a comment or a smile from one of the nation's most successful high-school basketball coaches the past decade.

Davidson, who was considering quitting coaching next year, accepted the coaching job at Delaware State College two weeks ago. Ever since, dozens of coaches, former players and friends have stopped by the Northwest Washington school to convey their congratulations.

"Ten years exactly. And it's been a good 10 years," Davidson said. "I'm very glad about the opportunity . . . The thing I wanted to do when I started (coaching) was to work with kids and pass on some of the things I've learned. I hoped they'd get the same benefits and enjoyment I did from the game. I feel I accomplished that.

"I had turned down several asssistant coaching positions before and was turned down for a couple of head jobs. But I felt if I stayed in coaching, I would get an opportunity to coach college ball," he said. "I felt I was ready, but I guess it wasn't my time. I was considering giving up coaching and going into some other field . . . Then, this happened." Davidson said he learned of the Delaware State opening through the newspaper.

"I think I had some good teams," said Davidson. "I tried to establish my philosophy of discipline and a good sense of order. I plan to do the same thing at Delaware State."

Davidson signed a one-year contract that will pay him approximately $30,000. He also has a four-year commitment from the school.