One of the key figures in the GW men’s basketball team’s rise to prominence in the early 1990s died Friday at the age of 32. Yinka Dare, who led the Colonials to the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and 1994 before playing in the NBA, reportedly suffered a heart attack at his New Jersey home.
According to the Associated Press, Dare collapsed while making breakfast after a regular morning workout. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to the emergency room at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, N.J. A medical examiner later determined that the heart attack came as a result of an arrythmia condition that was first diagnosed while Dare was at GW.
Robert Chernak, GW vice president for Student Academic Support Services, said Dare will be remembered as a student who helped bring national attention to the University.
“He essentially took a program that was in slumber for 40 years, and 1993, his freshman year, we went to the Sweet 16,” Chernak said. “Obviously it wasn’t just him, but he was a very dominating defensive player. He almost looked like a Greek god.”
Standing 7 feet tall and weighing 265 pounds, Dare played two seasons as a Colonial before leaving early for the NBA Draft. Under head coach Mike Jarvis, Dare averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore in 1993-94. He still holds Smith Center records for most offensive rebounds (10) and most defensive rebounds (15) in a single game.
“He was a good student, never had any problems in school,” Chernak said. “Kind of a quiet guy. I guess you could call him shy in a way, but always polite, a real gentlemen.”
Dare was selected by the New Jersey Nets as the 14th overall pick in the 1994 draft and went on to play 110 games over four seasons in New Jersey. He scored 233 total points and grabbed 281 rebounds in his professional career.
“He probably, in retrospect, made a mistake by leaving school early,” Chernak said, “because I don’t know if he really had developed the basketball skills he needed to be successful in the NBA.”
A native of Kabba, Nigeria, Dare came to GW in 1992 after attending high school at Milford Academy in Milford, Conn. The center was never able to rejuvenate his NBA career after his stint with the Nets ended and did not return to GW until being named to the University’s all-century men’s basketball team in 2001.
“He wasn’t the type of person that stayed regularly in contact with the school,” Chernak said. “He was honored once as part of the all-century team and made an appearance at the ceremony, but other than that he never really maintained that much contact back with GW.”
His impact on the University, however, remains an important part of the school’s athletic history, Chernak said.
“He really got GW basketball on the map,” he said. “It would be nice to have a guy like Yinka coming to GW next year.” n