When C.B. McGrath replaced Kevin Keatts as UNC Wilmington coach on April 3, the Roy Williams protégé became sixth Kansas alum at the head of a D1 basketball program. And that number could get much higher.
Nearly 120 years after James Naismith grew the game of "basket ball" from the University of Kansas, the Jayhawks' fingerprint on college basketball goes beyond the obvious. A staggering number of former players, students and assistant coaches have landed head coaching jobs after departing Lawrence.
THROWBACK SPORTS (Podcast): James Naismith's Coaching Tree
The coach factory was opened by Naismith and run by Forrest "Phog" Allen, who played at KU during Naismith's final two years as head coach (1905-07). He replaced Naismith as head coach the following season, for the first of two stints on his alma mater's bench. Allen won 590 games and three national championships in his 39 years as Kansas coach, including the 1952 NCAA Tournament title. And like Naismith did with him, Allen groomed his players into coaching legends.
Dutch Lonborg, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, and Ralph Miller all played under Allen. That quartet combined for 2,918 coaching wins, and the latter trio all reside in both the Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame.
C.B. McGrath, who played at KU under Roy Williams from 1994-98, has decades to go to sniff the success of any of those famed coaches but his fellow alums can provide cover fire for the 41-year-old first-time head coach.
Danny Manning (Wake Forest), Jerod Haase (Stanford), Mark Fox (Georgia), Mark Turgeon (Maryland) and Tad Boyle (Colorado) all attended KU. Had Rex Walters (San Francisco, 2008-16) and Tim Carter (South Carolina State, 2007-13), retained their jobs through 2017, KU alumni would have made up 2.3 percent of the 351 D1 coaches.
Former players-turned-assistant coaches could help grow that number, among them Bret Ballard (Update: Ballard was hired as head coach at D2 Washburn University on April 6) and Steve Woodberry, Danny Manning's right-hand men at Wake Forest. Jeremy Case and Brennan Bechard (Kansas) could follow similar paths.
KU's coaching stamp doesn't stop at alumni; nine former assistant coaches are currently head coaches in college or the NBA:
- Alvin Gentry (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Barry Hinson (Southern Illinois)
- Doc Sadler (Southern Miss)
- Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs)
- Joe Dooley (Florida Gulf Coast)
- John Calipari (Kentucky)
- Kevin Stallings (Pittsburgh)
- Roy Williams (North Carolina)
- Tim Jankovich (SMU)
And that list doesn't even include former All-American Jacque Vaughn, who led the Orlando Magic from 2012-15, or former players and coaches at D2, D3 and NAIA schools, most notably former crowd favorite Jeff Boschee (coach at Missouri Southern State). San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford also coached at Kansas, and Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was on the Jayhawks' 1988 national championship team.
Current Kansas head coach and 13-time defending Big 12 champion Bill Self also launched his coaching career from Lawrence, where he was an assistant for one season under Larry Brown (1985-86) before moving to Oklahoma State and eventually the head coaching ranks at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and back to Kansas.
Of all the things deserving of attention in Allen Fieldhouse — the retired jerseys, Naismith's rules, the three NCAA title banners — KU's ties to dozens of programs is quite remarkable and an ode to what James Naismith started in 1898.