Sherman Dillard is in his 11th year with the University of Iowa men’s basketball staff bringing a wealth of expertise on and off the court.
Dillard has helped rejuvenate the Iowa basketball program since arriving at Iowa in 2010. Not only has the attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena increased by more than 50 percent, but Dillard has helped vault the program back to national prominence on a consistent basis. Iowa achieved its highest national since 1987, when it was ranked as high as No. 3 on Jan. 25, 2016, and was ranked the final 11 weeks of the 2016. The Hawkeyes were nationally-ranked for 16 consecutive weeks in 2019 and the final nine weeks of the 2020 season.
Fran McCaffery and his coaching staff are the first in program history to win 18 or more games in six straight seasons (2012-17), while winning 20 games or more six of the last eight years. Dillard and the Hawkeyes are one of three teams to register upper division finishes in the Big Ten at least seven of the last eight seasons. Iowa has averaged 20 wins the last nine seasons, with its 183 victories between 2013-20 being the most over a nine-year span at Iowa since 1986-94.
Last season, Dillard helped the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes total 20 regular season wins and a likely invitation to its fourth NCAA Tournament in six years if not for the cancellation of the postseason due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Dillard helped coach unanimous consensus first-team All-American Luka Garza. The junior center was named National Player of the Year by a handful of major news outlets, while also earning Big Ten Player of the Year and USBWA District VI Player of the Year distinction.
Two years ago, the Hawkeyes amassed 23 victories, the program’s second highest total in 13 seasons, closely behind 25 wins in 2013 when reaching the NIT championship game. Iowa placed third in the Big Ten, and won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years.
The past 10 years at Iowa Dillard helped coach 15 Hawkeyes to professional contracts, including Devyn Marble and Aaron White, who were selected by the Orlando Magic (2014) and Washington Wizards (2015) in the NBA Draft, respectively.
Dillard has helped mentor nine Hawkeyes to All-Big Ten status during his tenure, including five first team honorees: Roy Devyn Marble (2014), Aaron White (2015), Jarrod Uthoff (2016), Peter Jok (2017), and Luka Garza (2020). In addition to the all-conference accolades, Garza, Uthoff, and Jok were All-Americans. Dillard helped develop frontcourt players Gabriel Olaseni and Nicholas Baer, who were each voted Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in 2015 and 2017, respectively. He also helped coach seven All-Big Ten Freshman performers (Eric May in 2010; Melsahn Basabe in 2011; Aaron White in 2012; Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook in 2017; Joe Wieskamp in 2019; CJ Fredrick in 2020).
Frontcourt players have enjoyed recent success under McCaffery and the coaching staff. Last year, Garza had unprecedented success as a Hawkeye, earning a handful of National Player of the Year accolades, earning unanimous consensus first-team All-America recognition, named the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award, and voted the Big Ten Player of the Year. Two years ago, Cook became the ninth player in program history to total more than 1,300 points and 600 rebounds. Baer is the only Hawkeye to ever total more than 750 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals, 100 blocks, and 100 3-pointers made. Additionally, Dillard helped mentor Jok (19.9 ppg) and Garza (23.9 ppg) in becoming Iowa’s fifth and sixth Big Ten scoring champions in school history.
Dillard has four decades of coaching experience, serving as a college assistant or head coach. He spent his first 15 years as an assistant coach at three institutions. Dillard began his coaching career under Head Coach Lefty Driesell at Maryland, spending six seasons (1979-85). He helped coach the Terrapins to four 20-plus win seasons and six postseason appearances, including five NCAA Tournament berths. The 1980, 1984 and 1985 squads reached the Sweet 16, while the 1984 team won the ACC Tournament.
He then spent three years at California (1985-88) under Lou Campanelli, who was his coach at James Madison. The Bears posted two third-place Pac-10 finishes and two NIT appearances during his tenure in Berkeley. After three seasons at California, he returned to the ACC and Georgia Tech for six seasons (1988-94). While in Atlanta, he helped Coach Bobby Cremins lead the Yellow Jackets to six winning seasons and postseason appearances. Georgia Tech played in five NCAA Tournaments, including the Final Four in 1990 and Sweet 16 in 1992.
Dillard received his first head coaching opportunity at Indiana State (1994-97). During his three seasons in Terre Haute, the Sycamores improved each year (29-52 record). He then left Indiana State to return to his alma mater to replace Driesell. Dillard was the Dukes’ head coach for seven years (1997-04). He posted a 93-106 record, sharing a league title and recording three first-division finishes in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). During his tenure, he earned CAA Coach of the Year and NABC District Coach of the Year laurels. His 10-year head coaching record stands at 122-158.
Dillard, a three-time Academic All-American and four-time honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, played guard at James Madison (1973-78). He led the Dukes in scoring in each of his four years (missed 1976-77 with an injury) and was the team’s top rebounder as a freshman. Dillard is the second-leading scorer (2,065 points) in James Madison history, and his academic excellence merited him an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. After his collegiate career, he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the 1978 NBA Draft. Additionally, Dillard was honored as a CAA “Legend” in 2009.
Dillard worked as a basketball marketing representative for Nike for six years (2004-10). He served as Global Camp Director, responsible for administrative and operational facets of a series of highly acclaimed camps and academies sponsored by Nike. Those camps included the Nike All-America Camp and select skills academies hosted by NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Amaré Stoudemire and LeBron James (until January, 2009).
Dillard is a 1978 magna cum laude James Madison graduate earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education and minor in business, and is a member of the school’s sports hall of fame.
Dillard and his wife Dena have two sons, Ben (27) and Langston (25). His son Ben was a four-year letterwinner on the Arkansas-Little Rock basketball team.