NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Danny Manning has agreed to become the head coach at Tulsa, the second assistant from Kansas coach Bill Self’s staff to announce their departure during the week of the Final Four.
Manning will help lead the Jayhawks in New Orleans before taking over at Tulsa, where Self once served as head coach. Kansas plays Ohio State in the national semifinals Saturday night.
“Right now my focus is on Kansas and its participation in the Final Four,” Manning said in a statement released by Tulsa on Thursday. “We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point and we want to keep it going for another few days.”
Manning’s move comes on the heels of Barry Hinson’s decision to take over the head job at Southern Illinois on Wednesday. Hinson had served the past two years as the director of basketball operations at Kansas. He also plans to be with the Jayhawks in New Orleans.Tulsa officials are planning an introductory news conference for next week.
“Danny Manning is one of the most accomplished, humble people you’ll ever meet,” Self said in a statement. “He’s done more in his life through the athletic world than just about anybody, but you would never know it in visiting with him as he never ever talks about himself.
“He’s been around basketball his whole life, played for so many coaches, been able to steal from everybody and has developed a vast knowledge that will certainly play a huge role in his success as a head coach,” Self said. “He will lead Tulsa to great heights athletically and be competing for championships in a very short amount of time.”
Manning takes over for Doug Wojcik, who was fired by Tulsa on March 11 after four 20-win seasons and three postseason appearances, though none in the NCAA tournament. Tulsa hasn’t made the field since 2003, the second of back-to-back trips to the second round.
The Golden Hurricane is even further removed from the heights it reached under Self, who was coach from 1997-2000 and led the program to a 32-5 record and regional final in 1998.
Still, Manning takes over a program on solid footing.
The Golden Hurricane have had six straight winning seasons, four of them of at least 20 wins, including back-to-back 25-win campaigns that included trips to the CBI and NIT. Tulsa went 17-14 this past season, losing in triple-overtime to Marshall in the Conference USA tournament.
Tulsa returns four of its five leading scorers next season, including dynamic guard Jordan Clarkson, who averaged better than 16 points during his sophomore year.
“We are extremely excited to have Danny,” Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley said. “His 15 years in the NBA combined with the last nine years under one of the best coaches in the country, have helped mold him into a great teacher and coach of basketball. He most definitely brings the excitement, the style of basketball and character that we were looking for in our head coach.”
Few players are so closely connected to a school as Manning to Kansas.
The program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, he remains ninth on the NCAA’s career scoring list with 2,951 points. Manning was a consensus All-American in 1987 and ’88, and led the Jayhawks—the team coined “Danny and the Miracles”—to the 1988 NCAA championship.
He was the Big 8’s player of the year three consecutive seasons.
Manning became the top pick in the 1988 draft and averaged 14 points over 15 seasons with seven NBA franchises. He returned to Kansas upon his retirement from playing, and became one of the most visible assistants at a program that has had John Calipari, Kevin Stallings, Tim Jankovich and other future head coaches sitting on its bench.
Manning, who is notoriously media shy, has earned a reputation as a solid recruiter and one of the elite coaches of big men. Under his tutelage, Thomas Robinson went from backup forward to a first-team All-American, and Jeff Withey from the bench to one of the Big 12’s top defenders.
Manning has also worked with future NBA players Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris.
“I’m excited and looking forward to being the head basketball coach at The University of Tulsa,” Manning said. “I’d also like to thank Coach Self for giving me the chance to be a part of his staff for the past nine years. I have learned a tremendous amount about the game and the profession from him and all of the members of his staff.”