Endeavour Ipswich Basketball Club's Nick Drane has been named the recipient of Basketball England's prestigious John Sage National Coach of the Year award.

Drane gets the nod after leading a young senior women's side to the WNBL Division One and National Cup double, with a play-off defeat to CoLA Southwark Pride having denied the Suffolk side an historic treble. He also oversaw the girls' Under-19s side as they went unbeaten through the regular season and won the National 3x3 Cup.

This award, however, is as much a recognition for Drane being a driving force at Ipswich Basketball Club and the Copleston Basketball Academy for more than two decades.

During that time, Ipswich sides - men's, women's, boys' and girls' - have consistently won silverware at an elite level, with more than 30 young players going on to secure top scholarships at US universities.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Basketball Club's senior women claimed a league and cup double this season.Ipswich Basketball Club's senior women claimed a league and cup double this season. (Image: Contributed)

In the last four years alone, seven players - Esther Little, Ethan Price, Susannah Rafiu, Anya McKenzie, Olivia Forster, Christabel Osarobo and Ben Michaels - have joined NCAA Division One sides.

Drane said: "I look at some of the people who have won this before and they are at the very top of the profession, so for my name to now be alongside them is a very proud moment. 

"I don't think I've coached any differently this year to any of the other years before, I've just been lucky to have worked with an extraordinary generation of talent.

"I need to thank Copleston for giving me an platform to do this. Basketball is a pretty urban/street sport, so it was a gamble to try this in a small market town in Suffolk.

"This is recognition not just for me, but for all the people who have put faith in me along the way."

East Anglian Daily Times: Nick Drane has a been a driving force at Ipswich Basketball Club for more than two decades.Nick Drane has a been a driving force at Ipswich Basketball Club for more than two decades. (Image: Contributed)

Basketball England highlights Drane's grassroots work, 'player-centric approach' and coach mentoring.

Copleston High School principal, Andy Green, said: "How Nick, working out of a publicly funded state secondary school, has got a small town like Ipswich consistently competing against big city clubs from the likes of London and Manchester is remarkable.

"The combined value of scholarships that our graduates have received runs into the millions now. Over in America, some of them have gone on to play regularly in front of crowds of 50-60,000, which is more than most professional footballers here. They are getting higher education experiences that might otherwise not be affordable.

"Nick's a fantastic coach, obviously, but it's never at the expense of the school's pursuit of academic excellence. He's a bit like Coach Carter, if you've ever seen that film, where it's a case of 'if you don't do your school work, you're not on the team'.

"When snooker player Dennis Taylor won that famous 'black ball final' back in 1985 he said 'it's taken me 16 years to be an overnight success'. That's the case with Nick. He's put his heart and soul into this for years and changed the lives of so many young people along the way. We couldn't be prouder of him."

Ipswich star Harriet Welham, a three times National Player of the Year, led tributes on the club website. She said: “I’m so glad Nick has won this award, there’s no one more deserving than him. The wins/losses, the trophies and the national titles speak for themselves.

"He’s helped change the women’s game in this country, not just in Ipswich. It’s the stuff he does off court that makes him special. I wouldn’t be the player or the person I am without his guidance and support."

The aforementioned Esther Little, who has played at top US college Gonzaga for the past three seasons, said: “Nick is a coach that puts the person before the player. I lost my mum when I was 13 and the impact Nick had on me during that time will stay with me forever. On the court, the confidence he instils in his players is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I will forever be in debt for the support he has provided to me and my family throughout my years."