ATLANTA — Charles “Lefty” Driesell, a man whose name is on the court of the Georgia State Sports Arena and who finished with 786 victories, is the subject of a new book available for sale on Wednesday.
Charles “Lefty” Driesell: A Basketball Legend was written by former Georgia State Sports Information Director F. Martin Harmon and details “Lefty’s” rise from a young boy in Virginia to a coaching legend which concluded at Georgia State.
Driesell helped put the Panthers on the basketball map with five straight winning seasons as head coach, including Georgia State’s best season ever, a 29-5 year that included the program’s only win in the NCAA tournament when the Panthers shocked Wisconsin in Boise, Idaho.
Termed the greatest program builder in the history of college basketball by longtime television analyst Billy Packer after winning more than a hundred games at four different Division I schools—all of which had fallen on hard times or never enjoyed hoops success—Charles “Lefty” Driesell was a transcendent figure in his sport for more than forty years.
Despite never coaching at one of the college game’s traditional powers, and despite losing two seasons in the middle of his career due to the tragic actions of another, Driesell still ended his career as the fourth “winningest” college coach at the time he retired in 2003 with 786 victories, coaching at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison, and Georgia State.
Included in his legacy is the traditional start of preseason practice called Midnight Madness, assistant coaches who would later accumulate more than 2,500 Division I wins as head coaches, incentive for the expansion of the NCAA Tournament to more than just conference champions, recruitment of the first African-American players at previously all-white schools in the South, and revolutionary recruiting tactics that would prompt NCAA legislation.
Plans are being worked on to have “Lefty” and Harmon at a game during the upcoming season for a meet and greet and book signing.
For details on, Charles “Lefty” Driesell: A Basketball Legend, visit Mercer University Press. The book is also available and many fine retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.