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Larry Brown’s impressive coaching tree at Kansas

Jun 4, 2013, 10:42 AM EST

larry-brown1 AP

As much as we like to rate coaches based on the wins and the losses that they accumulate over the course of their careers, perhaps the best way to truly evaluate a coach’s ability as a teacher is to look at his coaching tree.

A coaching tree is an awful lot like a family tree, a way to track where all the former players and former assistants that a head coach worked with end up.

And while there are a number of coaches with impressive coaching trees currently employed across college hoops, there may not be a more period of coach production than at Kansas under Larry Brown in the mid-80’s.

As Blair Kerkhoff laid out on Monday, Brown’s staff produced an unbelievable number of ingenious basketball minds, and five future NBA championship head coaches and three future NCAA title winners passed through his locker room.

Bill Self and John Calipari were both on staff. Alvin Gentry and Bob Hill became NBA head coaches, while Bill Bayno, John Robic and Mark Freidinger all have college head coaching experience. Mark Turgeon (Maryland), Tad Boyle (Colorado) and Danny Manning (Tulsa) all played for Brown and are currently collegiate head coaches. Milt Newton played as well, and he’s now a VP with the Washington Wizards.

Perhaps most impressive, however, was that RC Buford, now the general manager of the Spurs was a graduate assistant with Brown at Kansas when Brown first got the job. During the 1986-87 season, a D-III coach from California named Gregg Popovich spent the year on sabbatical, sitting in on Jayhawk practices. When Brown took over the Spurs, he brought Popovich and Buford with him.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that if Indiana had beaten Miami last night, it would have been an all-Larry Brown NBA Finals. Kevin Pritchard, the Pacer GM, was a point guard at KU under Brown.

Should I mention that, in 1988 when Brown left, Roy Williams took the program over?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. chrisco716 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Good information going forward coaching tree wise… and probably even more worth mentioning going backward with this coaching tree stuff… doesn’t this really start with incredibly innovative Dean Smith who Larry Brown played for in college… or for that matter Phog Allen who I think Dean Smith played under at Kansas? And I think Phog Allen was coached by a guy named Dr. James Naismith who invented basketball. So maybe Larry Brown is sort of tied into Dr. James Naismith via Phog Allen and Dean Smith? In any event, Larry Brown’s a great coach. Too bad he couldn’t have stayed mostly in one place to further build his legacy.

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