Associate Head Coach
David Grace joined the Vanderbilt men’s basketball staff as associate head coach in April of 2019 after spending the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach at Cal.
Grace’s roles with the Commodores include recruiting coordination, scouting opponents, practice planning, skill development, player behavior and academics.
Prior to his stint with the Golden Bears, Grace completed five seasons at UCLA before arriving in Berkeley. He spent five seasons at Oregon State prior to that, along with stints at the University of San Francisco and Sacramento State. He also served with the United States Air Force for two decades.
Throughout his established coaching career, Grace has earned a proven reputation as a leading developer of big men at each of his stops, coaching collegiate and pro stars such as Kevon Looney, TJ Leaf, Thomas Welsh, Eric Moreland, Gyorgy Goloman, Jonah Bolden, Ike Anigbogu, Angus Brandt, Travis Wear and David Wear.
While at UCLA, Grace’s coaching and recruiting prowess helped the Bruins compile a 117-57 record with four NCAA Tournament appearances, plus four top five recruiting classes. With responsibilities ranging from self-scouting, opponent scouting and game preparation to on-floor coaching and in-game adjustments, plus community service, Grace played a key role in the development of 10 prepsters to the NBA, including Lonzo Ball, Norman Powell, Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson, as well as Looney, Leaf, Anigbogu and Travis Wear.
Grace’s time in Westwood saw the Bruins advance to the Sweet Sixteen during three of his seasons, including the Ball-led 2017 squad that posted a 31-5 overall record. The 2017 and 2014 UCLA squads ranked among the nation’s elite in numerous categories, including scoring, assist turnover ratio and assists/game.
In 2016, he was ranked the best recruiter in the West and the 7th-best recruiter nationally based on an ESPN coaching peer survey. He helped the Bruins establish the No. 2 recruiting class for 2018, including nine top 100 prospects across back-to-back recruiting classes.
From 2009-13, he served as an assistant at Oregon State under Craig Robinson, helping the Beavers to its highest five-year win total (78) since 1988-92 and a school-record and conference-best 78.9 points/game in the 2011-12 season. Grace hauled in two nationally ranked recruits in his first season in Roberto Nelson and Joe Burton. Under Grace’s tutelage, Nelson developed into the conference scoring champion (20.7 points/game) and Burton accumulated more than 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists in his career. Grace also lured Jared Cunningham to Corvallis, guiding him to all-conference honors and a first-round NBA Draft selection in 2012. With Grace’s guidance, Moreland developed from an unranked high schooler to one of the conference’s top players, leading the Pac-12 in blocks as a freshman and earning back-to-back All-Defensive honors in the league. Grace helped Moreland become just the third player in Beaver history to average double-figure rebounds in multiple seasons.
In 2011, Grace was selected to attend the prestigious Villa 7 Center for Sports Leadership Conference at Virginia Commonwealth, where he learned alongside an elite group of basketball coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners.
He got his start in collegiate coaching at Sacramento State in 2006, recruiting 2006-07 Big Sky Freshman of the Year Vinnie McGhee before moving on to become the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at USF.
Prior to joining the NCAA coaching ranks, Grace spent several years as a high school head coach, winning the 5A Division II state championship with his South Mountain (Ariz.) High School squad in 2004-05. The following year, he was honored with ArizonaVarsity.com and Arizona Informant 5A Coach of the Year laurels. South Mountain won just four games the year before Grace arrived and then went 29-4 in his second year to win the 2004-05 championship.
Grace’s collegiate coaching career came following 20 years of active duty service with the Air Force, serving in Operation Desert Storm and in countries including Turkey, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia. He is a decorated veteran who served in roles such as fuel specialist and fuel accountant before later earning a promotion as a human relations specialist who handled discrimination cases.
During his military career, Grace coached with Boo Williams’ AAU program and later helped co-found the Compton Magic AUU program, continuing his passion for basketball from Georgia to Virginia and Arizona.
Grace has also worked with the Nike N7 program to honor Native Americans.
A native of Aberdeen, Maryland, Grace earned a bachelor’s degree in management and human resources from Park, as well as degrees in logistics and social services from the Air Force. He and his wife, Crystal, have six children — Troy, Terrell, Tierra, David II, Aubrey and Andre.