On October 28, 2010 Davidson College head men’s basketball coach, Bob McKillop, spoke to the Hickory Rotary Club. Coach McKillop was the 2008 NABC national coach of the year. He received the Coach Clair Bee Award which honors the active men’s NCAA Division I basketball coach who has made the most significant positive contributions to his sport during the preceding year. Under coach McKillop’s leadership, Davidson has won 10 Southern Conference division titles, five Southern Conference tournament championships, and participated in five NCAA tournaments and four postseason NIT tournaments. In 2008, led by two-time All America Stephen Curry, Davidson advanced to the “elite eight” of the NCAA tournament with wins over # 2 seed Georgetown, # 3 seed Wisconsin before falling to # 1 seed and eventual national Champion Kansas 59-57.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski calls McKillop “a sensational coach.” Texas coach Rick Barnes says, “There are some great coaches out there who deserve recognition, and Bob is at the very top of that list. Last year during the (2008) NCAA Tournament, the entire country got to see what I’ve known for 30 years. Bob McKillop is one of the best coaches in the country and has been for a long time”.
Matt Doherty, former head coach at North Carolina and now head coach at SMU, adds “Bob McKillop is easily one of the nation’s best coaches. What he has done at Davidson is truly remarkable. He recruits top-flight students for one of the country’s top liberal arts colleges and competes in the demanding Southern Conference along with a ridiculously tough non-conference schedule.” John Beilein, University of Michigan head coach says, “Many times you only hear about the coaches in the power conferences being great coaches. Bob McKillop is equal or better than any other coach that I know, and I’ve coached against most of the best in the country in my 17 years in Division I.”
Coach McKillop derived his basketball philosophy from many sources: Lou Carnesecca, Al and Frank McGuire, Jack Curran, Frank Morris, Paul Lynner, Dean Smith, John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Ettore Messina and others. He’s studied the winning ways of former college football coaches Ara Parseghian, Bud Wilkinson and Knute Rockne. “I’ve stolen from the best,” he says, laughing.
A 1972 graduate of Hofstra University, Bob McKillop was an outstanding college basketball player. He was the team’s MVP and was later inducted into the Hofstra Basketball Hall of Fame. McKillop signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia 76ers but was cut. The 76ers went 9-72 that season. “I was cut from the worst team in NBA history,” McKillop jokes. Humility surfaces in strange ways, sometimes humorously.
McKillop and his wife Cathy, a knowledgeable basketball person in her own right, have three children – Kerrin Heil, a 2002 Davidson graduate who married Henry Heil, another Davidson alum, Matthew, who graduated from Davidson four years ago after playing for his father for four years, and came back in the summer of 2008 to join the Davidson coaching staff as an assistant, and Brendan, a rising senior on this year’s Davidson team.
“Davidson College is a special place,” Coach McKillop says. “One reason our teams have been so united and close is because we reflect the total Davidson philosophy. Our players remain close long after they leave Davidson.”