KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self hired Jerrance Howard to be an assistant coach on Friday, plucking one of the top recruiters from Larry Brown’s coaching staff at SMU.
Self was looking for someone with deep connections on the recruiting front to replace Joe Dooley, who was instrumental in landing some of the Jayhawks’ top talent over the past decade. Dooley left in April to become the head coach at Florida Gulf Coast.
“Jerrance has great energy, is unbelievably positive and in a short amount of time has established himself as one of the better recruiters,” Self said. “I’m totally comfortable with him coming in here, having a smooth transition and having an immediate, positive impact on our program.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising in the ultra-competitive world of big-time college basketball that Self would grab an assistant from Brown’s staff, even though the two of them have remained close ever since Self was an assistant under Brown at Kansas during the mid-1980s.
Brown actually spent much of his time two seasons ago, when he was out of coaching, hanging around the Jayhawks program. Brown led the school to the 1988 national championship.
“Being around Coach Brown and hearing all the great stories about when he was at Kansas, I’ve been overwhelmed,” Howard said in a statement. “Coach Brown talks about the great players like Danny Manning, the tradition and the history — Kansas is the mecca.”
Howard played for Illinois from 2001-04, when Self was the Illini’s head coach. He spent time working for Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M and Kentucky, returned to his alma mater for five seasons, and then jumped at the opportunity join Brown’s rebuilding job at SMU.
The Mustangs went 15-17 this past season.
“Jerrance is one of my all-time favorite players,” Self said. “Even though he didn’t play a lot, he found a way to impact our program and probably had as much to do with us winning games as anybody on our team in the years I was at Illinois.”
Howard said that it was Self who inspired him to become a coach.
“I remember him after practice one day asking, `Have you ever thought about coaching?'” Howard recalled. “I said, `Not really,’ and he said, `Well you need to think about it.’ I credit Coach Self getting me started in my coaching career.”
It turned out to be a good career move, too.
Howard has become one of the hottest names in the coaching ranks, particularly because of his ties to AAU programs and high schools. He helped lure McDonald’s All-American Keith Frazier, a four-star shooting guard, and highly sought junior college post player Yanick Moreira to SMU.
“One of the important fits for me in selecting an assistant coach is that I wanted someone who is loyal, a tireless worker, has great contacts and will bring something to the table recruiting-wise,” Self said. “From a basketball standpoint, I wanted someone that through their experiences could also add to what we are doing and Jerrance can certainly do that.”