Sports Basketball

Basketball Court Named For Longtime Parish Coach

BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

Don’t bother asking Donald Dupree for his career coaching record.

He doesn’t know or care about it.

The results that concerned him most during his 40 years of high school coaching were the life lessons absorbed by his players on the basketball courts at Plaisance and Northwest high schools.

“What always concerned me the most were the lives that I was touching. How much of an impact did I have? That was the main theme of what I did and my approach to coaching,” Dupree said on Tuesday.

The effect Dupree had on his players and St. Landry Parish basketball was recognized last week during the annual Northwest High Holiday Basketball Tournament when the court there was officially recognized as Donald Dupree Court.

A ceremony on the final night of the tourney dedicated the court and featured a Dupree tribute entourage that included a number of former Plaisance and Northwest players in addition to several past and present parish coaches.

Dupree was the final boys basketball coach at Plaisance and the first one assigned to coach the Northwest High boys. 

“I did 20 and 20. The same number of years at each school. I coached the girls (at Plaisance) for five years and then 15 more with the boys there after I took over from Murphy (Guillory). I was Murphy’s assistant for three years,” Dupree added.

Former Plaisance High basketball standout James Gray, now superintendent of the Jefferson Parish School District, was the guest speaker for the ceremony held on what has become Donald Dupree Court.

Gray received a basketball scholarship to Grambling State and has been named 2024 a Louisiana School Superintendent of The Year recipient by the Louisiana School Superintendent Association.

One of the former parish basketball coaches honoring Dupree at the ceremony was Randy McDaniel, who coached at Leonville and Opelousas high schools.

In many of those games, McDaniel and Dupree matched strategy in a parish that included schools such as Washington, Morrow, Lawtell, Arnauville, Palmetto, Grand Prairie and Melville.

McDaniel said it was evident throughout four decades beginning in 1971, that Dupree-coached players were adept at learning the game.

“If you went to the practices, you could see how well organized they were. His teams were not going out there and playing P.E. basketball. (Dupree) ran a team offense and defense and he taught them individual skills. The teams practiced like they played,” McDaniel remembered.

During the current era when coaches are hired and removed after several years, the longevity displayed by Dupree at both Northwest and Plaisance is a testimony to coaching competence, McDaniel added.

“Look around. There aren’t many coaches who can say that they lasted 40 years at the same school,” McDaniel said.