Union Co. basketball legend Dwane Casey reflects on Ky. Sports Hall of Fame honor

Casey: ‘I’ve always had Kentucky and felt like it was home.’
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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MORGANFIELD, Ky. (WFIE) - Kentucky basketball legend and Union County High School graduate Dwane Casey is now a member of the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

14 Sports Director Tamar Sher spoke with Casey and those who attended the celebration as they reflect on the hometown honor.

[PREVIOUS: Morganfield native Dwane Casey among members inducted into Ky. Sports Hall of Fame]

Casey, who was named the NBA Coach of the Year back in 2018, is now the head coach of the Detriot Pistons. But decades ago, he was a member of the University of Kentucky’s 1978 national championship team.

“Very, very rewarding to me to see a young man advance from really enjoying playing as he did, and a very good player at a young age, to go on to the top of his profession,” Ernie Simpson, Casey’s former high school basketball coach said.

The Union County alumnus began his career as an assistant coach at UK, before moving onto Western Kentucky University, where he met current Owensboro Catholic basketball head coach Tim Riley.

“I thought at that time, this guy is really special,” Riley said. “He had that personality, that ‘it’ - it’s hard to explain when somebody has ‘it.’ I always felt that Dwane had that ‘it,’ the discipline it takes to do what he’s done in coaching.”

Last week, Casey was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame. Even after being recognized at the highest level, he said there’s something special about being acknowledged by those who helped write his story.

“Being recognized from your home people, to have the people you grew up with around you was unbelievable, I was humbled,” Casey said. “Here I am, a little basketball coach from Morganfield, so it was heartwarming.”

Simpson was among the hometown crew who attended the induction ceremony. Simpson said his former student is deserving of the award not only because of his talent, but also his heart.

“I’m 75, so I coached the old school way, and Dwane has took all that learning and has been able to take all of that and take it to a new way of teaching,” Simpson said. “He’s a great teacher of the fundamentals of the game of basketball and the game of life.”

It’s those life teachings that have guided the Kentucky basketball legend to find success and change lives along the way.

“When you try to do right by people, you try to treat people the right way, treat people the way you want to be treated, good things come back to you,” Casey said. “You don’t do it for those reasons, but they just seem to happen. I live by that motto when I’m coaching, and trying to help young players to develop and reach their dreams.”

“Even after I’ve gotten into the NBA, this is my 28th year, I’ve always had Kentucky and felt like it was home.”

Casey was one of six inductees into the 2021 Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

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