Thursday, August 1, 2013

KU assistant Kurtis Townsend named top recruiter



Kansas head coach Bill Self adjusts his tie as he watches from the bench next to assistant Kurtis Townsend during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

ESPN’s summer survey of more than 200 college basketball coaches says the No. 1 recruiter of all assistant coaches in the country is ... 10th-year Kansas University aide Kurtis Townsend.

“That just means I’ve been doing it a long time and everyone else got head-coaching jobs,” Townsend said Wednesday after learning he outdistanced runner-up Mike Hopkins of Syracuse, Kevin Keatts of Louisville, Butch Pierre of Oklahoma State, Orlando Antigua of Kentucky and 16 others in a group of 21. KU’s Jerrance Howard checked in at No. 12.

“I’ve got a lot of friends. Those guys must want me to get a head job, too,” Townsend added.

Townsend was KU coach Bill Self’s lead recruiter of No. 1 prospects Andrew Wiggins and Josh Selby, plus Sherron Collins, Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright, Jeff Withey and others

“The list for Townsend — who also spent time at Michigan and USC — is pretty darn impressive: Andrew Wiggins, Sherron Collins, Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright, Brandon Rush, Jeff Withey at KU and Jamal Crawford and Lavell Blanchard at Michigan,” wrote Jeff Goodman of ESPN. “He also got some quality talent in his tenure at USC. Townsend gets after it, has strong connections throughout the country and has one of the best brands — and head coaches — to sell.”

Townsend said he was honored to be named top recruiter by his peers.

“I’m working for a pretty good place to be able to get the No. 1 (distinction),” Townsend said. “It’s not as hard to recruit here as a lot of other schools.

“We ‘group recruit’ everybody,” Townsend added of all staff members being involved in the pursuit of players. “Coach Self is one of the best head coaches to recruit to. He’s going to get on the phone and call. He’s going to talk to the parents. He’s going to talk to the kid. All that makes it a whole lot easier. It’s nice they did that (survey), but it isn’t me. Trust me.”

Of KU coaches, he said: “Dooley (Joe, now at Florida Gulf Coast) did great. Obviously Jank (Tim Jankovich, SMU) and Danny (Manning, Tulsa) did great. In Norm (Roberts) and Jerrance, we’ve got two great recruiters. It’ll make it even easier, I hope.”

Townsend, a 1982 graduate of Western Kentucky, said he never tires of recruiting.

“I love talking to these kids and talking to parents and meeting people and developing new relationships,” he said. “Even with this new class (six incoming freshmen) ... it invigorates you every spring and summer that you’ve got these new guys you start getting the on phone with. I still enjoy it. I think when I get tired of it, it’ll be time to do something else. Right now, I love it.”

For ESPN’s top 21 recruiters go to the web address

Eleven on Vaughn’s list: Rashad Vaughn, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior shooting guard from Findlay Prep High in Henderson, Nev., on Wednesday cut his list of prospective schools to 11: KU, Minnesota, Baylor, Iowa State, Kentucky, North Carolina, UConn, UNLV, Arizona, Georgetown and UCLA.’s No. 7-rated player nationally is all-time leading scorer at Robbinsdale Cooper in New Hope, Minn.


p2d2kuhawks 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations Coach Townsend. You certainley deserve this honor.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

Am I wrong in that recruiting in this reward is based on top recruits or on performance?

Michael Sillman 9 years, 4 months ago

This could be a breakout season for the KU recruiters.

If this young team can win a 10th straight Big 12, if it can beat some name teams, if it can go deep in the tournament, and if Wiggins is the number 1 draft pick with a couple of other players also going in the first round, you would have to think the sky is the limit for bringing in talent for the next 3-4 years.

Imagine if all of the above came true, what the reception will be for Townsend when he walks into the living room for any of the top 10 rated high school players.

Go hawks.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree. There is going to be a chink in Kentucky's recruiting armor after this season (with a lot of McDonalds All Americans watching from the bench) and that should open the door for us even wider. Wiggins is key though. If we mess it up and he disappoints and goes lower than expected, it could do harm (as it did with Selby.)

Steve Gantz 9 years, 4 months ago

Not sure Selby messed up our recruiting too much.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

How could recruiting the #1 ranked player ever hurt? Did recruiting Nerlens Noel hurt Kentucky? There were a few disappointments in that class.

And let's give Selby a little break - his first and only year was hamstrung from the beginning. He should have stayed a 2nd year and would have well remembered or if he missed the entire 1st season because of MCAA or injuries, he's a lottery pick.

stuckyson 9 years, 4 months ago

How much difference dose a great coaching staff make? Maybe the greatest b-ball player of all time, Jordan only won championships with Phil Jackson and Tex Winter. Duke is what it is because of Coach K and those that assisted him. The list goes on and on. Great players become champions when paired with great coaches. Fortunately KU has had some of the great coaching staffs of all time. Dr. Allen, Smith, Rupp, Brown, Williams, Caliparii, Harp, Stallings, Owens, Boyle, Manning, Vaughn(?), Green. Too many to remember. Miller, Jank, Turgeon. Do we remember Reid, McLendon, Bunn, or Andy McDonald(who has two arenas named after him) or Dutch Lonborg? Since the inception of the NCAA tournament in 1939, 80% of Final Four's has had a KU alum coaching in it.Whle it is easy to find, the list of coaches who either attended or coached for KU is another factor in making Kansas the most tradition rich basketball program of all time. If Coach Self along with Howard, Townsend, and Roberts keep the momentum going they will leave a great continuing legacy of great players achieving great things; championship things.Great coaching staff paired with great playeras.

Tim Orel 9 years, 4 months ago

Like the comment, but don't leave out that Jordan (best guard, but I'll still take Wilt as best overall player) won a national championship under Dean Smith, KU grad.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 4 months ago

The 80% stat is impressive if true. Where did you come up with that? Is it actual alums, or people, like Townsend who coached at KU? Any chance one can compare it with UNC, UK, Indiana?

Brianna Zaleski 9 years, 4 months ago

Stuckyson, is that an accurate stat on the 80% of FF coaches being KU alumni? If so, that is amazing number that should be repeated often.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

If he means alum, then there is no way it's accurate. People affiliated with KU at some point I could believe because that brings former assistants into the mix like Self, like Calipari who have multiple Final Fours on their resume, but did not graduate from KU.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

Why no picture of Kurtis?

The man can dress.

And it's about damn time Kurtis got a shot at HCing, if he wants it.

Kurtis laid down with a dog in Berkley once long, long ago and got some flees. But like St. Augustine he cleaned up, put on a flea collar and helped clean up UM and has been crucial to Bill's success.

He is one of Self's success stories in gambling on guys with swagger, of betting they will want to try to do it the right way, when challenged to and given a chance!

Many of Bill Self's players are gambles on the swagger in young men. They are guys that could easily go wrong, because of the swagger, if no one gave them a chance to do it the right way and a dog house and a toughening box to shape the swagger into purposeful manhood.

Selfs players are bets on swagger and inner toughness being turned into the manhood of relentless getting better.

His players are not angels.

His coaches are not angels.

But they all have one thing in common: they want to get better and they have the swagger and inner toughness it takes to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and human flaws to do so.

Jesus needed disciples to catch people. He did not go to the rich, or their judges, or to successful merchants, or their slaves, or to the poor. He found some fishermen--hard men who caught things for a living. He said follow me and catch people instead of fish. He understood that men with talent at something aspire to put it to better, more fulfilling use, if given a chance.

Kurtis was kind of a young fisherman.

Self asked him to come along.

He did.

He has caught some good persons.

He knows the gospel.

He deserves a shot.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 4 months ago

You don't see a picture of him with the article?

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

jaybate..if I give you my address will you send me whatever it is you're smoking?

j/k amigo : )

RJ King 9 years, 4 months ago

a dog in "Berkley"??? Does it have a name? Bozeman? Do tell.

Michael Pannacciulli 9 years, 4 months ago

Who were some of the guys that turned out to be bums or busts that KT recruited?

KT is now the new Dooley and the most tenured, seemingly most trusted by Bill. Great to see him getting some recognition. He's humble too...I like that.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 4 months ago

I guess now that Dooley's gome, someone's name has to start popping up on all of the awards lists and head coaching search lists. Coach T has paid his dues and waited his turn and now he's the most eligible assistant.

Most assistant coaches, if they aren't driven by the ambition to be head coaches, don't succeed as long as Coach T has. I suspect that he'll find his opportunity in the next few seasons, much like Joe Cool did with "Dunk City". But I could be wrong about Coach T, maybe he's driven by some other ambition. Maybe he just wants to win championships and he knows that being the best KU assistant coach he can be is his best opportunity to win multiple rings.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago


great work for Kurtis.

but the big wheel keeps turning.

look comes Snacks.

Eric TheCapn 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations! I'm already sad to see another of our fantastic coaches go, though. Can we have Danny back at least?!

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

There are a few possible good replacements and a few second chances who have gone through personal problems that might deserve another look at.

Second chances: Matt Doherty who was at one time one of the most desired up-and-coming coaches. He did a great job at Kansas as an assistant and then at Notre Dame. It all fell apart at UNC. I've tried researching what exactly happened but never really got a good understanding of all that transpired. I have never believed that "the inmates were running the asylum" excuse. Looking at his history and that just doesn't jive.

Billy Gillispie is a proven head coach who obviously has been through some difficult personal issues. If those are in his past than I think it would be a no-brainer to hire him as an assistant.

Michael Lee would be probably at the top of my list. Already having experience as an assistant coach and being a former Jayhawk, I believe would be a great fit as long as Coach Self and a former Roy Williams player would be able to work together. These are grown men and I can't see Coach Self not doing anything that he believed would be good for the University of Kansas.

I was at one time hoping that Jerod Haase might come to KU but it would be only a lateral move for him. I can see him being the head coach one-day at either Kansas or UNC.

John Pelphrey, an assistant coach to Norm Roberts and former head coach at South Alabama was another possible assistant coach To Bill Self. He's had good experience at some high profile universities and coaches such as Billy Donovan at Florida where he was just rehired.

Long shot: Paul Mokeski, who has had some interesting experiences as an assistant coach just about everywhere.

But looking at the new hires for assistant coaches at Kansas and it's obvious that Bill knows best. Jerrance Howard (former Weber assistant as well as Larry Brown and Billy Gillespie) has all the knowledge plus is known as being a top recruiter and second year Norm Roberts are both great additions to Kansas basketball.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

First, I thought Dooley was our best recruiter, No excuse other than not paying attention, low IQ, brain damage..that should cover it.

Second, how can you not want Kurtis Townsend to achieve the success he deserves. Can't believe he is not a head coach but there certainly is a downside to KU if he leaves. Give him a BIG raise!

And finally, what is the criteria for this award? Does Trey Burke (3 Star recruit who becomes NCAA POY) count more than McLemore?

ESPN makes the distinction calling it the ability to land talented players NOT in developing players or making game preparations:

Part of what goes into being an elite assistant coach is the ability to teach and develop players, part is the ability to scout and prepare players for their next opponent. But ask just about anyone and they'll tell you that the most important aspect for any assistant coach is his ability to land talented players.

Martin Shupert 9 years, 4 months ago

Wow, is Townsend ever full of himself. Notice how he took all the credit for the award and made it sound like he was receiving an Emmy? Well, yeah... maybe not! I never saw so many humble statements packed inside such few words!

AZHawk72 9 years, 4 months ago

Congrats, Coach Townsend, for the long overdue acknowledgement of your contributions! Both of my sons' jump shots suck, but if you're ever in Phoenix, we'll take care of you.

Jacobpaul81 9 years, 4 months ago

Checking up on:The 80% stat -

1939 -2013 = 75 Final Fours

KU has reached 14 final fours = 19%

Adolf Rupp coached in 6 final fours, 2 of which involved Kansas = 18 = 24%

Dean Smith coached 11 final fours, 2 involving Kansas = 27 = 36%

If we add Williams as former coach + 3 =30 = 40%

If we add Calipari as former assistant +3 = 33 =44%

Let me know if I've missed any who made the final four, but 80% is clearly not accurate. Now, many great Ku alums have coached and many of those won Helms trophies or NAIA championships.

Ludwig Supraphonic 9 years, 4 months ago

Self at Illinois. I guess Brown at UCLA was vacated. Does it only qualify if the final four follows the KU connection?

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