Mark Turgeon’s appearance in Lawrence the other night made me wonder how many former Kansas University men’s basketball players are currently head coaches at the collegiate level.
Answer: Not very many.
After Turgeon, the most visible former KU player on the NCAA Div. I echelon is Rex Walters, now in his first season at San Francisco U. after two seasons at Florida Atlantic.
Walters played two seasons for the Jayhawks (1991-93) after spending his first two years at Northwestern. A left-handed guard, Walters shot 50.7 percent during his two-year stint on Mount Oread, averaging 15.6 points a game.
Like Turgeon a dogged competitor, Walters could hit the three-pointer, but he also had an uncanny knack for squeezing through traffic for layups.
If you’re wondering, Walters’ first USF team is 8-11 at this stage, including an 0-4 record in the West Coast Conference. Meanwhile, off the court, Walters may be the leading progenitor among NCAA head coaches. He and his wife Deanna have five children.
The only other former KU player currently a head coach in NCAA Div. I is Tad Boyle, now in his third season at Northern Colorado after six seasons as associate head coach at Wichita State under, coincidentally, Turgeon.
Boyle spent four years (1981-85) at Kansas, mostly as a reserve guard, and averaged only 3.0 points a game, or about what Turgeon averaged during his four-year stint with the Jayhawks during approximately the same time period.
At UNC in his hometown of Greeley, Boyle has had mixed success. The Bears are 7-12 at this point, 3-3 in the Big Sky Conference. UNC scored only 43 points against Portland State the other night, the school’s lowest output in 51 years.
Two more former Jayhawks — Jeff Guiot and John Douglas — are head coaches at lower echelons. Guiot is in his fifth year at Southwest Baptist in Boliver, Mo., while Douglas is at Lawson State Community College in Alabama.
Both Guiot and Douglas, like Walters, had two-year tours in Allen Fieldhouse. Guiot left after his first two seasons for Pittsburg State while Douglas came to Lawrence from an Alabama junior college.
Douglas, incidentally, is the answer to a trivia question. Most KU fans know Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points and Bud Stallworth 50, but few know that Douglas owns the third highest single-game output in the tradition-rich school’s history — a 46-point outburst in 1978 at Iowa State.
No former KU players are waiting in the coaching wings, but a former student manager is. Jay Price, who handed out towels on the 1991 NCAA runner-up team, is now in his sixth season as an assistant coach at Illinois. Prior to that, Price was an aide for 10 years at Purdue.
Meanwhile, the student manager of KU’s 1988 NCAA championship team, Bill Pope, is in his fourth year as an assistant coach and advance scout for the NBA Detroit Pistons. Pope was a head coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City for several years.
Finally, there’s Paul Mokeski. A seven-footer from the Ted Owens era, Mokeski is an assistant coach for the Anaheim entry in the NBA developmental league.