As if the games on the court at the sixth annual Cancer Research Classic weren't already enough.
For the second straight year, the weekend of events, surrounding one of the premier basketball showcase events in the United States, will get under way Thursday evening with a banquet, held at Oglebay Park's Glessner Auditorium, that features Ohio Valley native and former Wake Forest University head coach Dino Gaudio as the keynote speaker.
"I am honored that Doc (Dr. Gregory Merrick) asked me to speak," Gaudio said during a recent phone interview. "The Ohio Valley had such a huge impact on my career and forming the foundation of who I am as a coach and person."
Gaudio, who gets back to the Ohio Valley a couple of times a year to visit his parents in Yorkville, cut his coaching teeth in the Ohio Valley as an assistant coach at Wheeling Central. He took over the Maroon Knights' program in 1984 and held the job until 1987.
"My ideals on coaching were molded in those days at Wheeling Central," Gaudio said.
It was at Wake Forest, however, where Gaudio left the biggest inprint on his career despite taking over the job in a trying time.
Gaudio took over the Wake Forest program under adverse circumstances. He replaced his friend and mentor Skip Prosser after his passing, at the age of 56, from a heart attack in the summer of 2007.
"It was a tremendously trying time," Gaudio said. "Skip and I were so close. My heart was incredibly heavy because of his passing."
Though, he was heartbroken about Prosser's sudden death, Gaudio didn't have any reservations about taking over the Demon Deacons' program.
"I didn't want anyone else to take over because I felt something would have been lost in the transition of who Skip was and what he was trying to build," Gaudio said. "The real challenge was making sure we honored Skip, and all he stood for, properly and, at the same time, make the team my own."
Gaudio, who was also head coach at Army and Loyola of Maryland, had his best head coaching success at Wake, posting a 61-31 mark in three seasons.
In those seasons, the Demon Deacons reached two NCAA Tournaments. During the 2008-09 season, they ascended to the number one ranking in the America before finishing the campaign 24-7 after an opening-round loss.
The following season, Wake finished 20-11 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA before being eliminated by a Kentucky squad that featured John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
Unfortunately, that evidently wasn't enough for the Wake administration. It fired Gaudio on April 7 of 2010.
"(The firing) was definitely a surprise to me," Gaudio recalled. "We'd just gone to back-to-back tournaments. In the nine years, Skip and I were at Wake, we had 21 seniors graduate with their degrees. The only four who didn't graduate left school early for the NBA. We had recruited good players, who were also good kids and quality people."
In 2011, Gaudio became a member of the media and joined ESPN as a college basketball analyst. He's a regular contributor on ESPN-U and will spend this winter calling games on Tuesday nights in the Southeast Conference.
"I really enjoy television," Gaudio said. "I really like both the studio work and the games. I get spoiled being in the studio because ESPN-U is located in Charlotte, so I can go home and sleep in my own bed, but I like the games because of the atmosphere in the arenas, getting out and meeting with the coaches and players and the actual games."
To help him prepare for the transition into broadcasting, Gaudio picked the brains of Doug Collins and Jeff VanGundy.
As much as he's enjoying television, Gaudio doesn't fully rule out returning to the sideline at some point.
"I never say never because you don't know what job might come along," Gaudio said. "I had some opportunities last year, but I felt that television was more enjoyable. I miss coaching, so if the right opportunity came around, I would perhaps pursue it, but this is a great quality of life right now."
So, what can those in attendance Thursday expect to hear from Gaudio?
"I am going to talk about two major topics," Gaudio said. "I plan on speaking about the value of Catholic education and how it molded my professional career. Since I've been at Wheeling Central, Xavier and Loyal, I understand the importance (of it) well."
The other topic is men's health. Obviously, the Schiffler Cancer Center is a major sponsor of the CRC and Merrick is one of the world's leading oncologists for men's health.
"Cancer, the research and the importance of being tested are very important topics in today's society," Gaudio said.
Gaudio knows that aspect of the speech well, too.
"In August of 2013, I'll be a 10-year cancer survivor," Gaudio disclosed. "I think I have credibility when talking about both cancer and Catholic education."
Gaudio was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 45. He had his thyroid removed in 2003.
"I was feeling great and just went in for a routine physical," Gaudio said. "Doctors saw something, ran some tests and they found it. It's extremely curable if it's caught early and mine was. It's just so important for people to get checked. Many forms of cancer are treatable if you catch it early."
THE OVAC announced the new classifications for next school year. There is just one change for the 2013-14 school year. River will return to Class 2A, while Steubenville Central moves up to Class 3A. The complete enrollment figures can be found on Page C7 in today's edition.
THE OHSAA announced some information for the inaugural State Dual Championship Tournament that will be held at St. John Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University. We'll have more on the dual tournament in next week's paper.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth