Cleveland: Davey Whitney was a Mississippi trailblazer, coaching legend

From Rick Cleveland at the (Biloxi) Sun-Herald on May 11, 2015:

This would have been March, 1974. Mississippi Coliseum was so packed the fire marshals had locked the doors. If Jackson State defeated Alcorn State, the Tigers were going to the NIT, which was a huge deal 41 years ago.

The Tigers had the Short brothers, Eugene and Purvis, who would go on to be NBA first-round draft choices. Alcorn State had an elfish looking little coach named Davey Whitney and a bunch of no-named players from backwoods Mississippi.

The JSU Tigers never knew what hit them. Alcorn came out in a swarming, full-court press. It seemed as if there were 10 of them on the court. It was 48-13, Whitney’s guys, before you knew it. Up in the rafters, Alcorn fans thundered the question: “Who ‘dat say they gonna beat them Braves? WHO DAT?” WHO DAT?” Jackson State eventually made a game of it, but did not make the NIT.

Whitney, who died Sunday at 85, won 566 college basketball games. He was a Kentucky native and a Mississippi trailblazer. He changed the sport forever in his adopted home state. He will be remembered as one of Mississippi’s greatest coaches in any sport at any level.


Before becoming a basketball coaching legend, Whitney played professional baseball. He was a middle infielder for the Kansas City Monarchs. When Ernie Banks left the Negro Leagues to play for the Chicago Cubs, the guy who took his place as the Monarchs’ shortstop was a little guy from Kentucky named Dave Whitney.

Read more here:
Read more here:

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 12, 2015. Last Updated: May 12, 2015.