Before coming to UCLA, Daniels was the men's head basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton for three seasons (2001-03).
Head Coach Ben Howland and his talented staff have landed back-to-back Top 5 nationally-ranked recruiting classes. In 2009, the Bruins' recruiting class ranked No. 4 by Scout.com. The class includes five players that are all 6-foot-7-inches or taller (Tyler Honeycutt, 6-7, F; Brendan Lane, 6-9, F; Mike Moser, 6-8, F; Reeves Nelson, 6-8, F and Anthony Stover, 6-10, C). The 2008 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the country by many scouting services and national web sites. The class included the Gatorade National Player of the Year, Jrue Holiday, and four other top 50 players (Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee and a late addition in J'mison Morgan). He also helped recruit the 2004 class that ranked No. 4 in the nation by Rivals.com, the 2005 class that sported five players ranked amongst the Top 100 players in North America.
"Donny's experience as a head coach and running his own program has been invaluable in helping us build our program here at UCLA," said Bruin head coach Ben Howland. "Donny Daniels has a plethora of talents - from recruiting, to coaching on the floor, to game preparation. In all aspects of dealing with young student-athletes and helping them grow, Donny has continually stressed his players' academic advancement and, of course, helped them develop into better basketball players."
His expertise is evident based on the recent success of the Bruins. UCLA won back-to-back-to-back Pacific-10 titles (2006, 2007 and 2008) and made three straight trips to the Final Four in those same seasons. Additionally, the Bruins have produced six first-round NBA Draft picks in Jordan Farmar (2006), Arron Afflalo (2007), Kevin Love (2008), Russell Westbrook (2008), Jrue Holiday (2009) and Darren Collison (2009) in his five seasons as an assistant under Howland. UCLA has also had another four players drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft in Daniels' tenure including Trevor Ariza (2004), Dijon Thompson (2005), Ryan Hollins (2006) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (2008).
Daniels at Cal State Fullerton
The 2002-03 collegiate campaign was Daniels' third year as the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, his alma mater. After winning only 10 games in his first two seasons (Daniels inherited a Titan program that was on NCAA probation), his 2003 Cal State Fullerton squad doubled their victories (10), posted a 8-10 Big West record, despite a rash of serious injuries that affected all five returning lettermen. Suiting up as few as seven or eight players for several midseason games, Fullerton had its best conference record in 10 years and reached double figures in victories for the first time in four years. The Titans beat every Big West opponent except tournament champion Utah State.
On April 20, 2000, Daniels was named head coach at Cal State Fullerton. Prior to being named head coach, Daniels was at Fullerton for two years as a player and had three stints as an assistant coach, including two tenures under George McQuarn, who lettered for two seasons (1962-63) as a catcher on the UCLA baseball team.
Daniels played on Cal State Fullerton's first two NCAA Division I teams in 1974-75 and 1975-76 under head coach Bobby Dye. In his senior year, he was selected the top defender on a team that won the school's only conference basketball championship by earning a share of the 1976 Pacific Coast Athletic Association title.
Daniels graduated in 1977 with a degree in criminal justice and returned to Fullerton as a volunteer assistant for the 1978-79 season. He was an assistant in Dye's final season (1979-80) before becoming an assistant at his high school alma mater, Los Angeles' Verbum Dei. As a high school player at Verbum Dei, Daniels played for then-head coach McQuarn.
Daniels returned to Cal State Fullerton as a part-time assistant coach under then-Titan head coach McQuarn for the 1981-82 through 1983-84 seasons before becoming head coach at Los Angeles Harbor College in Wilmington (another alma mater) for two years (1985-86/32-27 overall record, including 20-11 in 1986). His third return to Fullerton was as a full-time assistant to first McQuarn and then successor John Sneed for the 1986-87 through 1988-89 seasons. His full-time coaching tenures at Fullerton coincide with NIT appearances in 1983 and '87 and the recruitment and/or development of former Titan greats Leon Wood, Cedric Ceballos and Bruce Bowen.
Ceballos was a 1990 NBA second-round draft selection. He played 11 years in the NBA with five different teams. His best years were with the Los Angeles Lakers, when he averaged better than 21 points in both the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
Daniels at Utah
During Daniels' tenure (1990-2000) as a Utah assistant on Majerus' staff, the Utes reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in 11 seasons and were national runner-up in 1998. Daniels was also the chief recruiter of Andre Miller (Miller and his parents made a special trip to attend Daniels' Cal State Fullerton hiring press conference on April 20, 2000) and Keith Van Horn to Salt Lake City.
Daniels recruited Miller from his high school alma mater, Verbum Dei. Before his stint with the Clippers, Miller spent three years with the Cleveland Cavaliers and in 2002 led the NBA in assists (10.9 apg).
Other players Daniels helped coach at Utah who went on to the NBA include Michael Doleac (12th year in the NBA, second with Minnesota) and Josh Grant (one year with Golden State).
Before his two-year (1975-76) playing career at CS Fullerton, Daniels played for one season at Scottsdale Community College (1973) and for one year at L.A. Harbor College (1974).