Danny Manning moves to next phase of coaching career with no shortage of options


Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning directs traffic during warmups prior to tipoff against Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning directs traffic during warmups prior to tipoff against Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Fired from his job as the head basketball coach at Wake Forest on Saturday morning, Danny Manning will move forward in an enviable position.

Set financially and loaded with connections throughout all levels of basketball, Manning has the luxury of being extremely picky about what he does next.

The knee-jerk reaction to the news by Kansas fans was, of course, for Manning to land on his feet back in Lawrence, where he spent nine seasons in various roles on Bill Self’s staff at the outset of his coaching career.

And there’s little doubt that if Manning and his family wanted to return to Lawrence, Self and KU would figure out a place for him in the basketball office.

Adding Manning to the program in any capacity would be a monster move for the Jayhawks. He’s a terrific mentor, knows how to develop talent, can recruit and loves Kansas.

He displayed all of those traits during his nine-year stint in Lawrence, which began in 2003, when he joined Self’s staff as a team manager and director of student-athlete development. And all of them have served him well since leaving Kansas, too.

Manning was promoted to full-time assistant coach for his final six seasons on Self’s staff and has spent the last eight as a head coach in the Division I ranks.

But staying in the college game might not be a no-brainer for Manning.

The former No. 1 overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers has plenty of ties to the NBA, and I’ve always thought that he had the perfect demeanor to coach at that level.

Clearly, he would have to start out as an assistant, but the turnover at the professional level is ferocious and, if Manning put himself in the right situation, he could someday sit in the head coach’s chair again.

That’s if he wanted to. Some guys like the chance to test themselves as head coaches and are just as happy to return to a supporting role when the ride is over.

There are a lot of professional players — particularly younger ones — who would benefit greatly from Manning’s presence in their lives. And, regardless of how long it’s been since he played, Manning’s NBA resume, on paper alone, would command immediate respect.

Let’s not limit Manning’s options to just KU or the NBA.

Manning also has connections throughout the college game, both with other coaches and administrators, and could find himself on the bench of some other program as soon as next year, either in an assistant coaching role or perhaps as the head coach of some mid-major or even a smaller program looking for a quality coach who does things the right way and cares an awful lot about the game.

Of course, if Manning’s been paying attention to his mentors, he might not feel the need to commit to any one program or opportunity next year. He could bop around the country, checking in at various programs and with old friends.

That scenario would have Manning filling some sort of a consultant role or perhaps keep him close to the game while waiting a year to see what opportunities present themselves for the 2021-22 season.

Or he could simply do nothing and move into pseudo-retirement as a happy, healthy and wealthy 53-year-old legend with some great years ahead of him.

Any or all of those options could be available in the coming months. And it’s hard to see Manning going wrong no matter which direction he chooses to go.


Brian Skelly 1 month, 1 week ago

The fact so many freshman left during the past two seasons at Wake both did him in talent-wise, and doesn't present a good look.

I agree with the idea that he'll be able to do whatever he sees fit down the road.    My guess is next season he'll be sitting it out coaching-wise and looking for what will become a good fit for his next stop.   Whatever it is.

Bryce Landon 1 month, 1 week ago

I don't follow Demon Deacon basketball very closely at all, so I would be curious to know why so many freshmen were bailing out on Wake Forest on Manning's watch.

Bryce Landon 1 month, 1 week ago

Everybody fails at something sooner or later. It's part of life. Danny Manning failed at Wake Forest, but that doesn't make him a failure. He was in over his head there. Any coach not named Dave Odom or Skip Prosser would have been in over there heads there.

Selfishly, I'd like to see him come back to Kansas and coach the big guys again. But if he wants to take it easy for awhile instead, he can and should. He's Danny Manning; he can do whatever the hell he wants!

Blake Brown 1 month ago

Whatever he does, I wish him well. Danny ands the Miracles are a huge part of Jayhawk nation adoration and shall remain a legend forever in the annals of Kansas basketball, if not college hoops in its entirety. Due to COVID-19 cancellations, many national championship games have been re-shown on various TV networks and the 88` game just came around again. Had to watch it for the umpteenth time. Still a fascinating and smile producing game/ outcome. Lots of remnants of that team still engaged in KU hoops.

Titus Canby 1 month ago

They showed the '88 game on TV? Best NC game ever. Even better than the '08 game. I had that entire Final Four on VHS at one point, but the tape broke. I'd love to see it again.

Danny was such a stud. He carried that entire team on his back all year. He had the rare combination of talent and commitment to winning for the team.

Chad Smith 1 month ago

I honestly would put zero stock into him getting fired at Wake.

1) Wake is Not Duke or UNC, and with the rise of Virginia and FSU along with the expansion to include Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Lousville, Wake is at best the 8th most attractive program in the ACC ( and that's being generous)

2) Coaches get fired quote often, especially when they first make the leap to the Power 5 level. It's not easy at all. Hell, even proven coaches at power 5 schools get axed sometimes too. It's ruthless out here.

Danny, we'd love for you to teach big men again at KU, but honestly do whatever your heart desires, We will always love you. Rock Chalk.

Barry Weiss 1 month ago

He does seem like a better fit for the NBA.

Keith Gellar 1 month ago

Just read WF is trying to get out of paying him the remainder of his contract. For all the peeps on Long's side in the Long vs Beaty debacle, do you side with WF now?

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