Kansas State ranked No. 22 on Street & Smith's list of the "100 Greatest Basketball Programs of All-Time"
From famed players such as Bob Boozer, Rolando Blackman, Mitch Richmond and Michael Beasley to legendary coaches Jack Gardner, Tex Winter and Jack Hartman, K-State has one of the nation's proudest men's basketball traditions.
The Wildcats have been playing the game since 1903 and have racked up over 1,500 victories, 27 NCAA Tournament appearances and 20 conference championships. The program has advanced to the Sweet 16 on 16 occasions, while making 11 trips to the Elite Eight and four ventures to the game's ultimate destination, the Final Four.
This tradition of excellence began on Jan. 16, 1903 when Kansas State took on Haskell College. After a two-year hiatus, the Wildcats returned to the court in 1905-06 under the direction of C.W. Melick. Melick was replaced after a year by a man that has become a true pioneer in Kansas State Athletics, Mike Ahearn. The man that once coached nearly every sport at the college and became the namesake for Ahearn Field House took the reins in 1906 and guided the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons. Guy Lowman replaced Ahearn after five seasons and guided the program to three straight winning seasons.
Head coach Z.G. Clevenger captured the first of the Wildcats' 17 conference crowns in 1916-17, when he helped K-State to a 15-2 overall record and the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. The team rallied off 13 straight wins to conclude the season by average margin of victory of 20 points. The season would produce the first All-American in school history, as guard F.I. Reynolds garnered first team honors. After a second-place finish the following year, Clevenger guided the program to another conference title in 1918-19 with a 17-2 mark. During his brief four-year tenure, Clevenger helped the program to a 54-17 (.761) record, including a 38-15 (.717) league mark.
After successful tenures by Charles Corsault (1923-33) and Frank Root (1933-39), the university hired Jack Gardner in 1939 as its ninth head coach. Gardner, who is enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame, coached the Wildcats in two stints, from 1939-42 and again from 1946-53. After posting just 20 wins in his first three seasons, Gardner returned to Manhattan in 1947 and led the team to its first winning season in 16 years with a 14-10 mark.
The following season, the Wildcats made the most of their first NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing all the way to the 1948 Final Four, where they lost to eventual national runner-up Baylor in the Western Regional Finals, 60-52. The squad became the first in school history to win 20 games en route to capturing the Big Seven crown. The team tied for the league title in 1950 with a 17-7 record before Gardner guided the 'Cats to arguably the greatest season in school history.
With first team All-American Ernie Barrett leading the way, Gardner's Wildcats rattled off 25 wins to just four losses en route to capturing the Big Seven crown for the third time in four seasons. Entering the NCAA Tournament ranked fourth in the nation, K-State survived a scare from Arizona, 61-59, in the first round before beating No. 11 BYU and No. 24 Oklahoma A&M to advance to their second Final Four appearance. Facing No. 1-ranked Kentucky for the national championship, the Wildcats took a 29-27 lead into halftime. However, the Wildcats with an injuried Barrett were overwhelmed in the second half in a 68-58 loss.
Under Gardner's guidance, K-State posted an 147-81 (.645) record, including a 127-47 (.730) record in his last seven years. He helped the program to a pair of 20-win seasons and two Final Four appearances. After helping the squad to back-to-back second-place conference finishes in 1952 and 1953, he handed the reins of the program to his assistant, Tex Winter, in 1953.
The man best known for helping Phil Jackson mold NBA championship teams in Chicago and Los Angeles, Winter led Kansas State to 261 wins in his 15 seasons from 1954-68. He still owns the highest winning percentage (.691) and most league titles (eight) in school history and twice led the Wildcats to the Final Four (1958 and 1964). Winter guided K-State to postseason play seven times, including six trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Winter was named UPI National Coach of the Year in 1958 after he led Kansas State to the Final Four by knocking off Oscar Robertson and second-ranked Cincinnati in an 83-80 double-overtime thriller. Junior center Bob Boozer was one of three Wildcats to be named a first team All-America, along with teammates Jack Parr and Roy DeWitz. K-State advanced to their fourth Final Four in 1964. Winter's Wildcats knocked off Texas Western and No. 5 Wichita State to reach Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. Two-time Big Eight selection Willie Murrell averaged 25.3 points per game during the run, which ended in a 90-82 loss to eventual national champion UCLA.
Kansas State's long line of successful coaches continued in 1970 when then-athletic director and former All-American Ernie Barrett hired Jack Hartman from Southern Illinois as head coach. Hartman led the Wildcats for 16 seasons, becoming the the program's all-time winningest coach with 295 wins and guiding it to three league titles and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Hartman's teams advanced to the Elite Eight on four occasions (1971-72, 1972-73, 1974-75, 1980-81) and six times to the Sweet 16 (1971-72, 1972-73, 1974-75, 1976-77, 1980-81, 1981-82).
Former Wildcat and two-time Big Eight Player of the Year Lon Kruger followed Hartman as head coach in 1986. Kruger became the first coach in K-State history to guide four consecutive teams to the NCAA Tournament, including the Midwest Regional Finals in 1988 where the Wildcats lost to eventual champion Kansas. Following the season, Mitch Richmond was named an All-American.
Former assistant Dana Altman took over for Kruger following the 1990 season. In four years, Altman guided the Wildcats to three postseason appearances, including the 1993 NCAA Tournament. Best remembered for his ability to win close games, and for pulling off some of the biggest upsets in school history, Altman led the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons from 1992-94. His 1994 squad, led by Askia Jones, upset No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, before a nationally-televised audience on ESPN in Lawrence en route to winning 20 games for the first time since the 1988 season and advancing to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Tom Asbury took over the program in 1994, guiding the Wildcats to the 1996 NCAA Tournament in his second season. Asbury would help the program to back-to-back postseason appearances at the NIT in 1998 and 1999. His 1999 squad won 20 games for the first time since the 1994 season.
Jim Wooldridge arrived on campus in 2000 and continued to build on the great tradition established many years ago. He built a strong foundation that helped the program capture back-to-back winning seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06, including a 17-win season in 2004-05 and narrowly missing the postseason.
Kansas State began a new era on March 23, 2006 when the Wildcats chose legendary head coach Bob Huggins as the school's 22nd head coach. Although he stayed just one season, Huggins made an immediate impact on the school, as he guided the program to a 23-12 overall record and a fourth-place finish in Big 12 play with a 10-6 mark. It was the most wins since tallying 25 during the 1987-88 season and first 20-win season since 1998-99, while the 10 conference wins were the most in the Big 12 era and the most since the Mitch Richmond-led 'Cats earned 11 Big Eight wins in 1987-88. Huggins also guided the squad to its first postseason appearance in eight seasons with its invitation to the MasterCard NIT, helping the Wildcats to the second round.
Hoping to continue the momentum started in 2006-07, Kansas State chose Huggins' top assistant, Frank Martin, as the Wildcats' 23rd head coach on April 6, 2007. Martin built upon the school's tremendous tradition with an unprecedented five consecutive 20-win seasons and five postseason appearances, including trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He departed K-State in 2012 for South Carolina, wrapping up his five-year tenure with a 117-54 overall record, including a 50-32 mark in Big 12 play. His 117 wins were the most by a coach in K-State history in his first five seasons and the most-ever by the school in a five-year span. Martin is the first Wildcat head coach to post five consecutive 20-win seasons and the first to guide the school to the postseason in each of his five seasons. The four NCAA Tournament appearances in a five-year span are the most since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1986-90.
Armed with one of the nation's top recruiting classes, he became just the second rookie coach in school history to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament and the first since Lon Kruger did so in 1986-87, as the Wildcats advanced to the Big Dance for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Once there, Martin helped the program capture its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1988 with a thrilling 80-67 win over fifth-seeded USC in the first round of the MIdwest Regional in Omaha, Neb., on March 20.
Under Martin's tutelage, Michael Beasley had one of the greatest seasons ever by a college freshman in NCAA history in 2007-08, as he averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in earning National Player of the Year honors from both CBS Sports.com and Rivals.com and National Freshman of the Year honors from CBS Sports.com, Rivals.com, CollegeHoops.net, The Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Beasley became just the second player in school history to earn consensus first team All-America honors and the first since Bob Boozer in 1959. In addition, he became the just the second player in league history to be named both the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year by the coaches and The Associated Press.
Despite losing four starters, including two to the NBA, Martin helped Kansas State to a 22-12 overall record and a tie for fourth-place in the Big 12 with a 9-7 mark in 2008-09. The Wildcats advanced to the postseason for the third consecutive season with an at-large bid (No. 4 seed) to the NIT. The squad defeated Illinois State, 83-79, at home in overtime in the first round before losing to the region's top-seed, San Diego State, in the second round, 70-52, in San Diego, Calif. Following the regular season, junior Denis Clemente became the first Wildcat in the Big 12 era to be named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, while Clemente was named second team All-Big 12 and sophomore Jacob Pullen was selected to the honorable mention squad.
Armed with arguably the nation's top backcourt of All-Americans Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, Kansas State posted one of its greatest seasons ever in 2009-10, totaling a school-record 29 wins en route to the school's first Elite Eight appearance in 22 seasons. The squad earned its highest-ever seed (No. 2) in the NCAA Tournament and recorded three wins (North Texas, BYU and Xavier) at the tournament for just the fourth time in school history before losing a hard-fought 63-56 contest to eventual national runner-up Butler in the West Regional Final. The Wildcats finished in the Top 10 of both major polls, including seventh in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, for the first time since ranking ninth in 1973. It was the highest final ranking for the school since concluding the 1961-62 season at No. 6 in The Associate Press poll.
In all, K-State set 23 team and individual records in 2009-10, including shattering marks for scoring (2,949), field goals (981), 3-point field goals (253), free throws (734) and blocked shots (187). For his efforts, head coach Frank Martin was the runner-up to Syracuse's Jim Boeheim for The Associated Press' National Coach of the Year in 2010, while he was a finalist for the Naismith Men's College Basketball Coach of the Year. Martin was a near unanimous choice for a number of Big 12 Coach of the Year awards, collecting them from the league coaches, AP, The Sporting News and Kansas City Star. Both Clemente and Pullen earned All-America distinction, becoming just the second set of Wildcats to earn the honor in the same season. Pullen became just the second Wildcat to tally first team All-Big 12 honors from the league coaches since 1997.
Kansas State faced huge expectations in 2010-11 with multiple preseason Top 10 rankings and a preseason All-American in Jacob Pullen. Despite some bumps in the road, the Wildcats recorded its fifth consecutive 20-win season, including its fourth in a row under Martin, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons. Overall, the squad posted a 23-11 overall record, including a tie for third place in the Big 12, and knocked off six ranked foes, including the nation's No. 1 team for the second consecutive season. Senior Jacob Pullen became one of the program's all-time greats, earning All-America honors and first team All-Big 12 accolades for the second straight season. He also surpassed Mike Evans to become the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points. In all, Pullen left K-State owning seven career records, including wins (95), games played (135), double-digit scoring games (105), 3-point field goals (299) and steals), and ranking in the Top 5 in 17 total career categories.
One of the winningest active Division I coaches, Bruce Weber was named the 24th head men's basketball coach at K-State on March 31, 2012. Armed with All-American candidate Rodney McGruder, Weber led the Wildcats to a 27-8 overall record and a share of their first conference title since 1977 with a 14-4 Big 12 mark. It was the school's 20th overall conference championship and the 18th won in the regular season. The 27 wins were the second-most in a single-season in K-State history and just the fifth 25-win season overall, while the 14 conference wins tied the 1958-59 team for the most in school history. The squad also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time in school history, including a school-record tying fourth consecutive season, and received its third highest seed - No. 4 in the West Regional - since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979. It marked the first time since 1990 that the school has advanced to four straight NCAA Tournaments.
Three Wildcats - McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving - became the winningest senior class in school history with 101 victories from 2009-13. They became just the second senior class to advance to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
K-State's All-Time Coaches
|1.||Jack Hartman (1970-86)||295-169|
|2.||Fred "Tex" Winter (1954-68)||262-117|
|3.||Jack Gardner (1939-42, 46-53)||147-81|
|4.||Frank Martin (2007-12)||117-54|
|5.||Charles Corsaut (1923-33)||89-81|
|6.||Tom Asbury (1994-2000)||85-88|
|7.||Jim Wooldridge (2000-2006)||83-90|
|8.||Lon Kruger (1986-90)||81-46|
|9.||Dana Altman (1990-94)||68-54|
|10.||Z.G. Clevenger (1916-20)||54-17|
|11.||Frank Root (1933-39)||38-72|
|12.||Guy Lowman (1911-14)||34-16|
|Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons (1968-70)||34-20|
|14.||Mike Ahearn (1906-11)||28-27|
Bob Huggins (2006-07)
|16.||Carl J. Merner (1914-16)||19-15|
|17.||E.A. Knoth (1920-21)||14-5|
|Fritz Knorr (1944-46)||14-33|
|19.||Cliff Rock (1943-44)||7-15|
|20.||C.W. Melick (1905-06)||6-9|
|Chili Cochrane (1942-43)||6-14|
|22.||E.C. Curtis (1921-23)||5-28|
Best Winning Percentage
|1.||Z.G. Clevenger (1916-20)||.761|
|2.||E.A. Knoth (1920-21)||.737|
|3.||Fred "Tex" Winter (1954-68)||.691|
|4.||Frank Martin (2007-12)||.684|
|5.||Guy Lowman (1911-14)||.680|
|6.||Bob Huggins (2006-07)||.657|
|7.||Jack Gardner (1939-42, 46-53)||.644|
|8.||Jack Hartman (1970-86)||.636|
|9.||Lon Kruger (1986-90)||.633|
|10.||Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons (1968-70)||.630|
|11.||Carl J. Merner (1914-16)||.559|
|12.||Dana Altman (1990-94)||.557|
|13.||Charles Corsaut (1923-33)||.529|
|14.||Mike Ahearn (1906-11)||.509|
|15.||Tom Asbury (1994-00)||.491|
|16.||Jim Wooldridge (2000-2006)||.480|
|17.||C.W. Melick (1905-06)||.400|
|18.||Frank Root (1933-39)||.345|
|19.||Cliff Rock (1943-44)||.318|
|20.||Chili Cochrane (1942-43)||.300|
|21.||Fritz Knorr (1944-46)||.298|
|22.||E.C. Curtis (1921-23)||.152|
Most Wins in a Single-Season
Frank Martin (2009-10)
Bruce Weber (2012-13)
Jack Gardner (1950-51)
|5.||Jack Hartman (1976-77)||24|
|Jack Hartman (1980-81)||24|
|7.||Jack Hartman (1972-73)||23|
|Jack Hartman (1981-82)||23|
Bob Huggins (2006-07)
|11.||Jack Gardner (1947-48)||22|
|Fred "Tex" Winter (1957-58)||22|
|Fred "Tex" Winter (1960-61)||22|
|Fred "Tex" Winter (1961-62)||22|
|Fred "Tex" Winter (1963-64)||22|
|Jack Hartman (1979-80)||22|
|Frank Martin (2008-09)||22|
|18.||Frank Martin (2007-08)||21|
|19.||Tom Asbury (1998-99)||20|
|Dana Altman (1993-94)||20|
|Lon Kruger (1986-87)||20|
|Jack Hartman (1975-76)||20|
|Jack Hartman (1974-75)||20|
|Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons (1969-70)||
NCAA Tournament Appearances
|1.||Jack Hartman (1970-86)||7|
|2.||Fred "Tex" Winter (1954-68)||6|
|3.||Lon Kruger (1986-90)||4|
|4.||Frank Martin (2007-12)||4|
|5.||Jack Gardner (1939-42, 1946-53)||2|
|6.||Dana Altman (1990-94)||1|
|Tom Asbury (1994-2000)||1|
|Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons (1968-70)||1|