|Title:||Associate Head Coach|
Paul DeStefano enters his 42nd year as a basketball coach with nearly unparalleled knowledge and experience. Catholic University players and coaches are fortunate he has chosen his alma mater to share his wisdom.
DeStefano participates in player development, scouting, recruiting and game strategy. On game days, he typically delivers the scouting report. During practice, he primarily works with CUA guards. His coaching helped Kevin Phanord be named 2015 Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
DeStefano’s 2012 arrival on campus coincided with the debut of Bryson Fonville. The point guard from North Carolina went on to be honored as conference Player of the Year in 2015 and was a two-time All-American. He finished his career as the eighth-leading scorer in school history (1,649 points) and now plays professionally in the NBA G League with the Dallas Legends.
DeStefano joined the Cardinals as associate head coach after leading the basketball program at nearby St. John’s College High School for 16 years. He coached on the prep level for 37 seasons and is well-respected in local high school basketball circles. His head coaching career brought him to St. Vincent Pallotti (1974-79), Mackin Catholic (1979-84), Bishop Ireton (1985-90), Seneca Valley (1990-94), Georgetown Prep (1994-96) and St. John’s (1996-2012).
Two of his players at Mackin played in the NBA: Dominic Pressley (Boston College / Washington Bullets / Chicago Bulls) and Johnny Dawkins (Duke / San Antonio Spurs / Philadelphia 76ers). Dawkins is now head coach at Central Florida.
During his tenure at St. John’s, which competes in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference – one of the nation’s toughest –– DeStefano led the Cadets to the 2000 WCAC championship and was named Coach of the Year. St. John’s entered as the seventh seed and proceeded to win at No. 3 Carroll and beat No. 2 Paul VI before downing top-seeded DeMatha on a buzzer beater, 61-59. The title was the Cadets’ first since the legendary Joe Gallagher guided the Northwest Washington, D.C., school to the 1977 crown.
DeStefano coached four first-team All-Metropolitans at St. John’s: Chris Wright (Georgetown / Dallas Mavericks / Italian pro); Vlad Moldoveanu (American / Polish pro / Romanian National Team); Dwayne Anderson (Villanova / two-time German All-Star / Penn State assistant); and Julian DeBose (Florida Gulf Coast / Gold Medal, 2015 World University Games).
They are among more than 30 of his former players to compete in NCAA Division I. Mackin’s Cecil Rucker played at Notre Dame and then professionally in France.
In 2004, the National Federation of State High School Associations recognized DeStefano as its Washington, D.C., Coach of the Year. He was also a finalist for national Coach of the Year honors.
While at Bishop Ireton in Alexandria, Va., DeStefano led the Cardinals to a pair of Virginia Catholic Schools state championships. In 1992 he guided Seneca Valley to a Maryland regional championship and the school’s first appearance in the state semifinals at Cole Field House.
Paul James DeStefano, who teaches algebra and trigonometry at St. John’s and took a break from coaching in 206-17, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1952. He graduated from Brooklyn’s Xaverian High School before earning his degree in economics, cum laude, from The Catholic University of America in 1974. He played baseball his first two years at CUA under former coach and athletic director Bob Talbot.
DeStefano comes from a family of basketball coaches. His late brother, Al, was head coach at Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Md., His brother, James, is head coach at the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, Md. He is the all-time winningest coach at Gallaudet University and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
DeStefano and his wife, Chris, live in Silver Spring. They have two children (Brian and Katherine) and one granddaughter (Cameryn). Brian played for his father at St. John’s, served as a manager at Duke, and was most recently associate head coach at Harvard. Katherine was a manager for the Georgetown women’s team and works as a lawyer in Washington, D.C.