Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot, who coached LeBron James in high school, will retire after season ends

The man who coached LeBron James in high school and now Duquesne University to its first NCAA appearance in 47 years says he will retire after the men’s tournament ends for his Cinderella team.

Keith Dambrot led the 24-11 Dukes to the Atlantic-10 Championship on Sunday to earn the league’s automatic berth into the tournament field, their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1977. No. 11 Duquesne faces sixth-seeded Brigham Young on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET.

“I was about 80 percent sure I was going to retire at the end of the summer,” Dambrot said at a Monday news conference. “But then when my wife (Donna) got sick, I think that was the crowning blow for me. I just decided before the season that this was going to be it for me.”

James, who first came to national attention as a high school junior thanks to a Sports Illustrated cover article, posted Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter: “THE BEST!!!!!!”

Dabrot said the NBA’s all-time leading scorer called him Sunday night, but he didn’t clue James in to his retirement plans.

“It just shows how much he cares about us,” Dambrot said. “When a superstar like him calls you after a game, that means something, right? I’m sure he probably knows. He knows me well enough to kind of have an inkling that this was going to be it for me.

“But I’m just thankful to have the relationship with him. He’s a better – this is a hard statement – he’s a better human being than he is a basketball player, which tells you a lot. He did a lot for our community.”

Over 26 years – 22 of which as a Division I head coach – Dambrot was head coach at five schools: Tiffin, Ashland, Central Michigan, Akron and Duquesne. He currently has a 528-304 overall record (440-268 in Division I). He entered the current season as one of 28 active NCAA Division I coaches with over 500 victories.

While at Akron, Dambrot led the Zips to three NCAA tournament appearances, the most recent in 2013.

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