At Seattle U it's dad taking orders from son

BY foxsports • November 6, 2009

About to begin his first Division I head coaching gig, Cameron Dollar is admittedly stealing. But no one will take issue with the new coach at Seattle University for this type of pillaging. Dollar is simply swiping information from his most knowledgeable assistant coach, who goes by another name: Dad. "It works great for me because I'm stealing. ... I got a guy that's my pops and he done did it, did it right and checked it off," Dollar said. "That's perfect for me. It's like having Cliff Notes, not even Cliff Notes, a big ol' thesaurus, an encyclopedia of information that I can tap into and it's tremendous for our players to have." Usually it doesn't work this way. It's not the son who is assigning duties and making requests of his father. How many images are ingrained of Bob Knight talking to his son Pat on the bench or Dick Bennett and his son Tony before the kids took over for the dads? But here is the 33-year-old Dollar about to begin his first season at Seattle U with his father, Donald, sitting next to him on the Redhawks bench. It's already a unique situation on Seattle's First Hill. Once a West Coast power with a history that includes Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor and a national championship game appearance more than 50 years ago, the Redhawks are headed into the second year of transition back to the top level of college athletics after dropping from Division I nearly three decades ago. This season brings a full schedule against Division I teams with tests against the likes of Oklahoma State, Utah, Oregon State and Washington. Lingering beneath all that interest in the Seattle program could be the most intriguing dynamic of the Redhawks season: the relationship between the head coach and his assistant father. "He has gained my respect even more by being around him, and the tasks he tells me to do I don't have any problem with it," Donald said while the younger, more tech savvy Cameron flips through messages on his phone. "In fact, I wish he would give me more," Donald added with some emphasis. Considered one of the rising young assistants in the college ranks, Cameron Dollar was completely content sticking with his gig as Lorenzo Romar's top assistant across town at Washington. He liked where he lived. He had job security. He was associated with a winning program. After a few years of seriously entertaining the idea of branching out on his own, Dollar was at peace with the idea of staying an assistant to Romar and enjoying the hard work completed in the first few years to rebuild the Huskies program. That all changed when the job at Seattle became available. He wouldn't have to move. His commute would only grow by a few minutes. He could still keep relationships with the kids he recruited to Washington, while at the same time molding the Seattle program into the Huskies city rival. It was all too good to pass up. "It moved so fast to where you went from 'pretty settled,' to 'I'm going to have to do this,"' Dollar said. And soon after getting the Seattle job, the idea of son and father working together quickly developed into a reality. Donald Dollar spent more than three decades coaching high school ball in Georgia, winning more than 660 games and a trio of state championships. And always hanging around the gym while he was coaching was Cameron. "I grew up watching him not only coach but develop men, people, impact families. I remember times we would be out at the grocery store and some dude would come up and be 'Hey coach Dollar' and I'd be like 'who's that?' 'Ah, he played for me in '81,"' Cameron said. "Somewhere else a dude came up to me and said 'I played for your dad ... I'm a pastor."' I remember thinking, 'Look at all these people he's helping and he's having fun doing it.' I was thinking this is big time." In recent years, Donald Dollar left behind the high school game and moved up to being an assistant at the college level, first at Morehouse College and then West Georgia. Despite his years running the show, Donald said he's completely comfortable taking direction from someone else. His first assistant job at Morehouse was working for a kid he had coached in high school, almost like working for a family member. That attitude doesn't change now, even though it's his son giving the orders. "Cameron is strong-willed. He's got his own ideas and then he will ask you things. Whereas if I worked for someone else they just tend to drop everything and tend to be uneasy because I'm around and doing things," Donald said. "He's strong-willed and knowledgeable, and if you are knowledgeable about the game you don't care who you discuss the game in front of." There will be plenty of moments when son leans on father in this first season. While the incoming talent for the Redhawks is more Division I ready, the core of the team is mostly players who were recruited to a Division II program. That's going to make for long nights in places like Stillwater, Okla., Corvallis, Ore., and Moscow, Idaho, among other challenges Seattle will face. All those obstacles are challenges that Cameron Dollar welcomes, and the success that comes from overcoming the expected adversity will be that much sweeter with his dad at his side. "From time to time I'd dismiss it saying I'd be too old by the time you got a head job," Donald said. "But I started thinking about it being a distinct possibility and the more that I thought about it the more exciting it became to me. I'm looking forward to it."

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