Dean Smith

Inaugural Dean Smith Award Presented to Georgetown Hall of Fame Coach John Thompson, Jr.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (NOVEMBER 13, 2015)—The legacy of the formidable and venerable University of North Carolina (UNC) Coach Dean Smith is intact, and on November 10 that became even more evident when the first-ever Dean Smith Award, created by Hanlon Sculpture Studio, was presented to former Georgetown University Hall of Fame Coach John Thompson Jr.

The event was sponsored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and raised money for the Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund, which gives money to low income students and helps education and social workers pursue advanced degrees.

“What an honor to be part of something so special,” said Master Sculptor Brian Hanlon who owns Toms River, NJ-based Hanlon Sculpture Studio and is the Official Sculptor of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “And it was so fitting that Coach Thompson, one of Dean Smith’s closest friends and respected peer, who is not only an amazing coach but such a humble man, receive the first award. He embodied the spirit, passion and commitment that became synonymous with the name, Dean Smith.”

The aluminum award depicts Smith commanding attention with grace and strength like he was always able to do.

Smith, who died in February at the age of 83, retired from his 36-year career as coach in 1997 after leading UNC to two national championships, 11 Final Fours and 879 victories. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest coach in history. UNC Coach Roy Williams, who became an assistant coach under Smith in 1978 and head coach in 2003, called Smith “the best there ever was.”

Georgetown Hoyas Coach for 27 years, John Thompson was the first African-American coach to take a team to the Final Four in 1982 and was named Coach of the Year seven times. The 6’ 10” Washington, DC-native was an imposing figure both on and off the court, tallying up a 596–239 (.714) career record, running off a streak of 24 postseason appearances – 20 in the NCAA tournament and four in the National Invitation Tournament, including a 14-year streak of NCAA appearances from 1979–1992 that saw three Final Four appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985, winning a National Championship in 1984.

Since his retirement from active coaching in 1999, Thompson has established the John Thompson Charitable Foundation to help improve the quality of life for disadvantaged children within the District of Columbia and other communities.

Construction is now underway at Hanlon Sculpture Studio of a new bronze statue of Coach Thompson, which will be unveiled next fall at Georgetown.

For more photos, please visit: 2015 Dean Smith Award Gallery


Brian P. Hanlon is a classically-trained master sculptor and founder of Hanlon Sculpture Studio; a full-service art studio that designs, creates, and installs awe-inspiring and signature monuments featuring bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and granite sculptures, illustrative and informational graphics, and interactive kiosks.

Hanlon Sculpture Studio provides complete site design services from sculptures to hard and softscapes, and offers total project management from design to installation and unveiling.  In collaboration with administrative and athletic staff at colleges and universities, the studio develops the scope of artwork projects that are designed to enhance the spirit, pride and tradition of athletics and the campus community.