One of the most accomplished players in the history of college basketball, Danny Manning is now developing a reputation as one of top coaches in the game. As he enters his fourth season at Wake Forest, a man who once starred in the NCAA Tournament and was a first round NBA draft pick is now mentoring and developing players who are accomplishing those feats.
“Our foundation will be built on sacrifice for one another. I believe what’s good for you is good for the team. It will be built upon hard work and sparing no effort. Those are the things that we will work hard to have each and every day when we come into the gym,” said Manning during his introductory press conference on April 8.
Manning was tasked to lead Wake Forest basketball in April, 2014 and return the program to national prominence. In 2016-17, the third year of that process, Manning’s mark on the Demon Deacons was evident. The team went 19-14 and reached the NCAA First Four, its first postseason appearance in seven seasons. Wake Forest ranked in the top 10 nationally in offensive efficiency, averaged 82.8 points per game and set school records with 268 3-pointers and 77.8 percent from the free throw line.The Deacs were led by All-American John Collins, who was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 19 overall selection of the NBA Draft. Following the season, Manning received the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award, given annually to a coach who had success on the court and shows moral integrity off of it.
Manning began shaping his vision for the future of Wake Forest basketball during his first season at the helm in 2014-15. A young Demon Deacon squad that had three freshmen among its top five scorers developed throughout the season despite a 13-19 record. Five of their wins came against teams that competed in the postseason, including a victory over eventual NCAA Sweet 16 squad NC State, while three of their losses were by single digits to teams ranked in the top-five nationally. The Demon Deacons went 11-20 during Manning’s second season, highlighted by a third-place finish at the Maui Invitational.
Manning came to Wake Forest after spending two seasons as the head coach at the University of Tulsa. He was named the 2013-14 Conference USA Coach of the Year after leading the Golden Hurricane to the conference championship and a berth in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament, Tulsa’s first appearance since 2003. Manning was also a finalist for two national Coach of the Year awards in 2013-14, including the Jim Phelan Award, given to the nation’s top coach, and the Ben Jobe Award, given to the nation’s top minority coach.
Manning posted a 38-29 (.567) overall record and a 21-11 (.656) record in Conference USA during his two seasons at Tulsa.
Prior to taking the reins at Tulsa, Manning spent nine seasons on the staff at Kansas, his alma mater. After retiring from professional basketball in 2003, he began his coaching career as a member of Bill Self’s first staff at Kansas. For four seasons, he served as Director of Student-Athlete Development/Team Manager. In that role, he was the team travel coordinator, oversaw equipment ordering and distribution and organized and assisted in the youth holiday clinic and summer camp program.
Manning was elevated to assistant coach in March 2007 and helped the Jayhawks win the 2008 national title in his first season in his new position. He also helped Kansas advance to the 2012 national title game in his final season in Lawrence.
During his time on staff at Kansas, Manning was a part of one NCAA national title, two Final Fours, five NCAA Elite Eight appearances, eight Big 12 regular season conference titles, five Big 12 tournament championships and 269 career victories. During his five-year tenure as an assistant coach, Kansas went 164-24 (.872) overall.
When he arrived in Winston-Salem, Manning was the first coaching hire in ACC basketball history to come into the job with NCAA championships as a player and as a coach to his name.
In addition to coaching at the collegiate level, Manning has been involved on the international level with USA Basketball. In 2017, he spent the summer as an assistant coach on John Calipari’s staff of the U19 National Team. He previously served as a court coach during U18 National Team training camps.
One of the reasons for Manning’s success on the sidelines has been his experience playing for and coaching next to some of the legends of the sport. During his playing career, Manning played for seven head coaches now enshrined in Springfield: Larry Brown (Kansas, Los Angeles Clippers), Denny Crum (1987 Pan American Games), Don Nelson (Dallas Mavericks), Lute Olson (1984 USA R. William Jones Cup), Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz), John Thompson (1988 Olympics) and Lenny Wilkens (Atlanta Hawks). As a coach, he has been mentored by Hall of Famers Bill Self at Kansas and John Calipari with the USA U19 National Team.
At 6-10 and one of the top big men to ever play college basketball, Manning has earned a reputation as one of the best coaches of big men in the country. The latest example of his expertise with post players was John Collins, who in two seasons with the Demon Deacons went from ranked outside the top 100 in his high school class in 2015 to the No. 19 selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Manning has coached 15 NBA draft picks, including 10 first-round selections and nine current NBA players. NBA draft picks during his tenure include big men Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich, twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson at Kansas, in addition to John Collins at Wake Forest.
Manning recruited two McDonald’s High School All-Americans, including 2010 NBA first-round draft pick Xavier Henry. He also coached two Academic All-Americans in Cole Aldrich and Tyrel Reed.
A Jayhawk legend, Manning is Kansas’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder, finishing his four-year career with 2,951 points and 1,187 rebounds. The 10th all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, Manning was named a consensus first-team All-America selection in 1987 and 1988, the consensus College Player of the Year in 1988 and a three-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year (1986, 1987, 1988).
Manning was named the 1988 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player en route to leading the Jayhawks–dubbed “Danny and the Miracles”–to an 83-79 victory over Oklahoma for the 1988 national championship. He was also named the MVP of the NCAA Midwest Regional in 1986 and 1988. Manning’s sophomore year in 1986 Kansas finished 35-4 and advanced to the Final Four in Dallas.
Recognized for all of his accomplishments on the court, Manning was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on November 23, 2008.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, Manning played 15 seasons in the league for seven different professional teams–the L.A. Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons. He averaged 14.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his NBA career, spanning 883 total games. Manning was a two-time NBA All-Star (1993, 1994), and won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award with Phoenix in 1998. During his playing days, Manning was a representative for the NBA Players Association.
Manning won a bronze medal as a member of the 1988 USA Olympic Team in Seoul, South Korea. He also won a silver medal for the U.S. at the 1987 Pan American games in Indianapolis.
Originally from Greensboro, N.C. Manning was named to the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He played at Greensboro Page High School, leading the school to the 1983 state title at the Greensboro Coliseum, before transferring to Lawrence (Kan.) High School prior to his senior year. He is also a member of the Lawrence High School Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Manning was named one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All-Americans in celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the McDonald’s All American High School Boys Basketball Game.
Born May 17, 1966, Manning earned his degree in communication from the University of Kansas in 1991.
Danny and his wife, Julie, have two children — daughter Taylor, who played volleyball at Kansas, and son Evan, who played basketball at Kansas and is currently the director of player development with the Demon Deacons.