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Thursday, June 30

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Basketball Thu Jan 27 2011

Chicago Legends to Coach McDonald's All-Stars

gene pingatore.JPG

With the annual McDonald's All-American Games -- the biggest national high school basketball all-star games in the country -- set for the United Center on March 30, the media rollout began today with the announcement of the four head coaches for the boys' and girls' squads.

Two local coaching legends will coach the West teams: boys' coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph's in Westchester and girls' coach Dorothy Gaters of Marshall in Chicago.

dorothy gaters.jpgCoaches are only allowed to coach the McDonald's All-American game once, so this is the first honor for Pingatore and Gaters, two of the most successful coaches in the history of Illinois high school basketball. They spoke about the honors at a lunchtime media event at the Westin, which we joined via conference call.

Both coaches said they're excited and grateful to be selected. They've never coached teams with so much overall talent.

"We don't want to ruin it with coaching," Pingatore said.

"There won't be any pressure," Gaters said. "It'll just be a fun time for us."

Pingatore has coached a slew of star players, including recent standouts Evan Turner and Demetri McCamey and a trio of McDonald's All-Americans led by Isiah Thomas. Gaters is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame with a similarly sterling resume.

The Tribune has more career details:

Pingatore has 867 career victories. He entered the season with the most wins of any Illinois boys coach, but because St. Joseph has gone 5-11 this season, Rockford Boylan's Steve Goers has surpassed him.

Gaters, in her 36th year of coaching, has 940 career wins, the most of any basketball coach in Illinois.

She has not had any McDonald's All-Americans since the girls game began in 2002, but she coached three Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-Americans -- Kimberly Williams (1993), Kourtney Walton (1999) and Cappie Pondexter (2001).

She attended the McDonald's games in 2009 when she was presented the Morgan Wootten Award for lifetime achievement.

So who will they be coaching? The roster of players will be announced Feb. 10, but here's a 67-page PDF of all the nominees, including dozens of Illinois kids, if you're hardcore.

Gene Pingatore photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

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