Smokey Gaines

Smokey Gaines (born February 27, 1942)

Teams coached: Detroit Mercy Titans, San Diego State Aztecs
Detroit record: 47-10 (.825)
San Diego State record: 112-117 (.489)
Overall record^: 159-127 (.556)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1979, 1985)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  2  (1978, 1982)
  • WAC Tournament Champion:  1  (1985)


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

2005-2008 Lemoyne-Owen
1979-1987 San Diego State
1977-1979 Detroit Mercy

Smokey Gaines Facts

  • David Gaines
  • Born February 27, 1942
  • Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
  • Alma Mater: LeMoyne–Owen College (BA, 1968) / Eastern Michigan University (MA, 1970)
  • Starred at LeMoyne-Owen in Memphis, leaving as the program’s all-time leading scorer
    • Became the first-ever player to have his jersey (#32) retired by the school
    • Played with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1963-67; later inducted into the team’s “Legends Ring”
    • Spent the 1967-68 season playing for head coach John Givens with the Kentucky Colonels (ABA)
  • Hired in 1977 as the head coach at Detroit Mercy, going 47-10 in two seasons at the helm
    • Led the Titans to the NCAA Tournament in 1979; ranked as high as #15 in the AP Poll
  • Left UDM for San Diego State in 1979, coaching the Aztecs for the next eight seasons
    • Went 112-117 overall, finishing above .500 each year between 1980 and 1985
    • Won 23 games in 1985, earning a NCAA Tournament berth by way of the WAC Tournament title
    • Among those he coached were All-American (and long-time NBA player) Michael Cage and Baseball HOFer Tony Gwynn
  • After coaching, Gaines operated a night club – Smokey’s – in San Diego for ten years
  • Briefly coached the San Diego Stingrays of the short-lived IBL in 1999
  • Returned to alma mater in 2005 and spend the next three years as LOC’s head basketball coach and athletic director
  • Then oversaw the Memphis City Schools’ athletic programs from 2008 until his retirement in 2012

Smokey Gaines Coaching Tree

  • Eric Cureton (Long Beach Jam)
  • Jessie Evans (San Francisco, Louisiana-Lafayette)
  • Andy Stoglin (Jackson State, Southern)
  • Tyler Terry (Eastern New Mexico)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only