Coach Brey's big break came from Coach Krzyzewski
Notre Dame Head Basketball Coach Mike Brey says if it wasn't for his time at DeMatha High School in Maryland, where he played and learned from legendary coach Morgan Wootten, he would not be where he is today.
Wooten won 5 national championships at DeMatha and had a stable of talent over the years including former Notre Dame and NBA great Adrian Dantley.
And many more, like Danny Ferry, Victor Olidapo and another former Irish star Jerian Grant have followed over the years.
Coach Brey started his career as the JV coach and as an assistant on Wooten's staff.
That opportunity led to a chance meeting that would change the course of his career and life.
Before Coach Brey was stomping the sidelines at Notre Dame, he was a young guy just looking for a chance to get noticed while working as an assistant coach at DeMatha High School.
"We had many great players. So, there was a lot of people coming through to recruit our guys and I was like the young assistant that Coach Wooten let me run some of practice. What a great audition for me. I'm 24 and there's Dean Smith, Lefty Frizzel, Mike Krzyzewski," Coach Brey said.
Those auditions did catch the attention of Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, who just so happened to have an opening on his staff.
"DeMatha was like running a college program. I first saw Mike when we were recruiting Danny Ferry and we were going to practices all the time. I was amazed at just how he taught and his personality and what Morgan said about him. And really the candidates for the job when Mike got it were very accomplished in the college or professional ranks. I didn't think it was even close. I really wanted Mike," Coach Krzyzewski said.
"I'll always be grateful, he hired me as a high school coach, I had no college experience. But I think he wanted a guy who was going to be with him a while, that he could groom and he certainly did that. He let me get my hands on all facets of the program, which made me very prepared to be a head coach," Coach Brey said.
Coach Brey spent 8 years on Coach K's staff.
"He has a great feel for the game, but he also has a great feel for people. So he can impart his knowledge on a youngster, easy. He's a guy's guy. He understands the game and kids so well. And he brought that for me every day. He made us very, very good," Coach Krzyzewski said.
"I mean, the 8 years I was at Duke, we went to 6 Final Fours and went to 2 National Championships. That was the Hurley, Laitner, it was unbelievable," Coach Brey said.
Now the two meet on the court as opponents.
"I never thought I'd be in the same league with him, especially at Notre Dame, that's how crazy expansion is, us being in the ACC. But now we've had some pretty darn good battles. He's a great friend. I love seeing him in the summer, we reminisce. So, I'm really grateful. Good friend, always a mentor. But now we really compete against each other hard," Coach Brey said.
"Mike's an amazing guy and an incredible coach and what he's done at Notre Dame is not surprising to me. He did that for us when he was an assistant here," Coach Krzyzewski said.
That respect has carried over off of the court as well.
"Mike and I are good friends. Mike's a, if Mike didn't coach basketball, Mike's a guy you'd want to be your buddy. We don't have much interaction but when we do, I love Mike and I love his style, not necessarily his dress code all the time. We're lucky to have him in our profession and Notre Dame is very, very lucky to have him," said Coach Krzyzewski.
"I have been really blessed. You think about, I mean, I had parents who were teachers and coaches. And I had Morgan Wooten as a high school coach. And then I had Mike Krzyzewski for 8 years. That is the Harvard Medical School or John Hopkins, that is the equivalent of coaching training right there. Parents Morgan Wooten, Mike Krzyzewski. If I can't figure this out after those people in my life, I need to get out of the business. Fortunately, I've gone back and drawn on those experiences with all of them through my 30 plus years in education," Coach Brey said.
The time with Coach Krzyzewski led Brey to his first head coaching job at Delaware in 1995.
In 5 seasons he led the Blue Hens to two conference championships and back to back NCAA tournament appearances putting Brey in position to land his dream job at Notre Dame.