Pro basketball team in Japan hires Japanese American head coach

HEADED TO HYOGO — Then-University of San Francisco Dons Assistant Coach Danny Yoshikawa, pictured here during a game at St. Mary’s College, was recently named the head coach of the Hyogo Storks of the newly-formed National Basketball League in Japan. photo courtesy of Hyogo Storks

HEADED TO HYOGO — Then-University of San Francisco Dons Assistant Coach Danny Yoshikawa, pictured here during a game at St. Mary’s College, was recently named the head coach of the Hyogo Storks of the newly-formed National Basketball League in Japan. photo courtesy of Hyogo Storks

KOBE, Japan — San Jose, Calif. native Danny Yoshikawa — who was an assistant coach under fellow Japanese American Rex Walters at the University of San Francisco Dons basketball program from 2008 to 2012 — was recently named the head coach of the Hyogo Storks of the newly-formed National Basketball League in Japan.

Japan’s top professional league launches its inaugural season in the fall.

Yoshikawa, who won 144 games over five seasons as head coach at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., left that school to become an assistant coach on the men’s basketball staff at UC Santa Barbara under head coach Bob Williams in 2007.

Yoshikawa played two seasons for Williams at UC Davis.

“Yosh is a great basketball coach,” Williams said in a statement at the time of his hiring at UC Santa Barbara. “He was a very tough and smart player and those traits have served him well as a coach.”

From Player to Coach
Yoshikawa began his college basketball career as a player at West Valley, where he played two seasons (1992-94). A point guard, he earned All-Golden Gate Conference honors while helping the Vikings to a two-year record of 53-11.

After his two seasons at West Valley, he moved on to UC Davis where he played two years (1994-96) for Williams.

In his two years at Davis, the Aggies won a pair of Northern California Athletic Conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year. As a senior, Yoshikawa was named NCAC Player of the Year, All-NCAC and UC Davis Male Athlete of the Year.
In his four seasons as a player, his teams went 100-29.

Yoshikawa graduated from UC Davis in 1997 with degrees in international relations and Japanese. Following his graduation from UC Davis, he spent one year traveling the world before beginning his coaching career in 1998. He earned his master’s degree in kinesiology from San Jose State University.

He began his coaching career in 1998 at West Valley where he spent three years as an assistant to coach Bob Burton. Following his stint as an assistant, Yoshikawa was named head coach at Cañada College, where he went 20-10 in one season before returning to West Valley, where he replaced Burton.

In his five seasons as the head coach at West Valley, Yoshikawa recorded a 144-47 record for a .753 winning percentage. He guided the Vikings to a pair of Golden Gate Conference titles, five California State Community College Tournaments and to two Elite Eight appearances.

In 2006, his West Valley team advanced to the state championship game and he was named California State Coach of the Year and Golden Gate Conference Coach of the Year.

In 2007, with just four returning players from the squad that advanced to the state championship game, Yoshikawa’s team went 24-9 and won its first round game in the state playoffs.

Overall, his six-year community college coaching record was 164-57 (.742).

In an introductory video posted on Facebook, Yoshikawa laid out his vision for the team.

“First and foremost, we want to win, but we also understand that winning is a result of a process,” Yoshikawa said in the video filmed in San Francisco. “We want to develop those young players. We want to make the young players of Hyogo the best players in all of Japan.

“We want to make it so that we are special, that we’re extraordinary in our community. Our team is going to be a team of the community; it’s not just going to be a team of professional basketball players. We are going to get out into the community, and we want the community to come to us and support us.”

He implied that things other than basketball helped to sway his decision to take the position as well.

“I’ve probably traveled over 65 countries in the world, and Japan is my favorite. … What I especially love is how considerate everybody is. … To me, that’s what attracted me in coming to Japan.”

He promised that the team will be “fun” and “exciting” to watch.

“We’re going to play aggressive … we’re going to play as a team.”

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