Former KU star Danny Manning takes coaching job at Wake Forest

04/04/2014 9:48 AM

04/04/2014 11:02 AM

Danny Manning, the former Kansas star and assistant coach under Bill Self, is headed to Wake Forest.

Manning, who spent the past two years overseeing a quick program resurgence at Tulsa, has been hired to replace the departed Jeff Bzdelik, the school announced on Friday.

The hiring comes 26 years to the day after Manning led Kansas to the 1988 NCAA title — and two years after he was formally announced as the next coach at Tulsa.

Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, spent 15 years in the NBA before returning to Kansas to join Bill Self’s staff in 2003. He first joined the staff as a quasi-team manager and then the director of student-athlete development before being elevated to a full-time assistant role in 2007. He served on the staff that guided the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA title, and developed a sterling reputation for nurturing and developing big men.

During his Kansas tenure, he helped Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey turn into NBA prospects.

He left Kansas for Tulsa after another trip to the Final Four in 2012. But before Manning arrived in Kansas in the mid 1980s, his coaching roots originated in North Carolina.

His father, Ed Manning, was a former college star at Jackson State who would bounce around for years in the NBA and ABA — “a journeyman,” Danny once said — and his son always studied all the little tricks that helped him survive on a basketball court.

“I always wanted to be a coach,” Manning said during his introductory press conference at Tulsa. “My father was a coach.”

Manning attended high school in Greensboro, N.C. — about a 30-minute drive from the Wake Forest campus in Winston-Salem — before then Kansas coach Larry Brown hired the elder Manning as an assistant at KU.

The younger Manning would follow, spending one year at Lawrence High before becoming an All-American and leading the Jayhawks to the 1988 championship.

“I was always in the gym,” Manning said two years ago. “Probably not paying attention as much as I should at that early age, but being around it.”

Manning finished 38-29 with two postseason berths in two seasons at Tulsa. He took the Golden Hurricane to the CBI in his first year and followed that by guiding them to the Conference USA tournament title and their first NCAA tournament berth since 2003. They earned a No. 13 seed and lost to UCLA in their tournament opener.

Manning’s hiring ends Wake Forest’s two-week search for a replacement for Jeff Bzdelik, who resigned under intense public pressure following four mostly unremarkable seasons.

Manning interviewed this week and toured the campus in Winston-Salem on Wednesday before taking the job two days later.

Wake Forest never came close to making the NCAA tournament under Bzdelik, who effectively rebuilt the program from the ground up before he stepped down March 20. Bzdelik went 51-76 with a 17-51 record in ACC play, and won only two league road games.

Barring any more transfers, Manning will inherit a team with eight players who are either juniors or redshirt juniors — including promising big man Devin Thomas and tempo-setting guard Codi Miller-McIntyre.

As details of Manning’s hiring trickled across Twitter, Miller-McIntyre tweeted: “Finally it’s over! Time to get back to work.”

Manning’s staff at Tulsa also included a number of Kansas ties. Former KU player Brett Ballard spent two seasons as the coach at Baker before moving to Tulsa in 2012. And Justin Bauman, a former KU manager, also served as a member of the staff after a short stint as an assistant under Rex Walters at San Francisco.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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