NABC Announces 2023 Guardians of the Game Award Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Basketball Coaches today announced the recipients of the 2023 NABC Guardians of the Game pillar awards. The awards are presented annually at the NABC Convention to NABC-member coaches, administrators and contributors who embody the NABC’s core values of leadership, service, education, advocacy and inclusion.


Receiving the 2023 NABC Guardians of the Game pillar awards are: for Leadership, WashU coach Pat Juckem; for Service, New Hampshire Associate AD Ken Dempsey; for Education, Kentucky State coach and Deputy AD Jamaal Jackson; for Advocacy, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla; and for Inclusion, coach Cuonzo Martin.


“NABC members make an impact and leave legacies that extend far beyond winning games,” said NABC Executive Director Craig Robinson. “This year’s NABC Guardians of the Game pillar award honorees live out the core values we all strive to uphold. I commend each of them for their positive influence on our sport and our society.”


NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Leadership – Pat Juckem, WashU head coach

Pat Juckem has been the head coach at Washington University in St. Louis since 2018. On the court, Juckem and the Bears have been a NCAA Division III Tournament mainstay, and he previously won 95 games at UW-Oshkosh and 104 games at Coe. Last year, Juckem guided his team and the WashU campus community through student-athlete Justin Hardy’s battle with stomach cancer and tragic passing in May. Juckem served as a trusted supporter for Hardy and his family throughout the cancer battle, which included Hardy’s inspirational return to the court last season while receiving treatment.


NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Service presented by CoPeace – Ken Dempsey, New Hampshire Associate AD for Team Support

Ken Dempsey has served as the Associate Athletic Director for Team Support at the University of New Hampshire since 2020 following 13 seasons as an assistant men’s basketball coach at UNH. He also held prior assistant coach roles at four different schools. Dempsey is currently chair of the NABC Division I Assistant Coaches Committee, which provides valuable feedback and assistant coach perspective to NABC advocacy and legislative efforts. He also sits on the NABC Division I Congress, and served on the NABC Executive Director search committee in 2020. Additionally, Dempsey is a member of the America East Spread Respect Advisory Group.


NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Education – Jamaal Jackson, Kentucky State head coach and Deputy AD

This season marks Jamaal Jackson’s seventh year as the head coach at Kentucky State University. Prior to his current position, Jackson was the head coach at Bluefield State and an assistant at multiple schools. His Kentucky State program has been recognized by the NCAA for its career shadowing initiative, and was a finalist for the 2022 NCAA Award of Excellence for its work with Second Street School in Frankfort. Additionally, Jackson has held appointments on the State of Kentucky’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and the Frankfort Board of Parks Commissioners.


NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Advocacy presented by CoPeace – Fran Fraschilla, ESPN college basketball analyst

Fran Fraschilla has been a game and studio analyst at ESPN since 2003, where he primarily calls Big 12 men’s basketball contests in addition to supporting the network’s NBA Draft and international basketball coverage. Fraschilla routinely leverages his ESPN platform to amplify the leadership and off-court impact of coaches, and remains a valued mentor to numerous coaching colleagues. Before joining ESPN, Fraschilla won 175 games in nine seasons as the head coach at New Mexico, St. John’s and Manhattan.


NABC Guardians of the Game Award for Inclusion – Cuonzo Martin, former Missouri, Cal, Tennessee and Missouri State head coach

Cuonzo Martin has achieved consistent success across head coaching positions at Missouri, Cal, Tennessee and Missouri State. His teams collectively have won 264 games and reached four NCAA Tournaments and four NITs. Off the court, Martin was a founding member of the NABC Committee on Racial Reconciliation – helping advance the group’s mission of addressing issues related to racial injustice both within college athletics and society at large. He is also passionate about serving under-resourced citizens in his hometown of East St. Louis, Ill. through his nonprofit organization Bonded Together.