The last four seasons have been difficult for the Wake Forest University men's basketball team. The Demon Deacons won only 40 percent of their games during that period and saw eight players transfer out. College basketball legend and 15-year NBA veteran Danny Manning was hired as head coach in April 2014 in an effort to reverse the team's fortunes.
Born on May 17, 1966, in Hattiesburg, Miss., Manning attended Page High School in Greensboro, N.C., and was a member of the school team that went undefeated and won a state championship in 1983. His family moved after his father accepted an assistant coaching job with the University of Kansas men's basketball team. Following his 1984 graduation from Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kan., Manning became a star for the Jayhawks. He was a consensus first-team All-American selected twice, won Big Eight Conference Player of the Year honors three times and was the consensus College Player of the Year in 1988.
The 1987-88 Kansas Jayhawks came to be known as "Danny and the Miracles," a fitting name for the first unranked team to win the national championship. In fact, after winning only 12 of their first 20 games the Jayhawks seemed in danger of not being invited to the NCAA Tournament. But invited they were, and they knocked off Xavier, Murray State, Vanderbilt, rival Kansas State and Duke on their way to a showdown with the favored Oklahoma Sooners in the championship game. Kansas won 83-79, and Manning, who had 31 points and 18 rebounds in the title game, was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player. In the press conference after the final game, the athlete posed a question to the reporters: "How do you like us now?"
Having set Kansas records for points (2,951) and rebounds (1,187), Manning was chosen by the Los Angeles Clippers with the first overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. He was an All-Star in 1993 and 1994. The Clippers traded him to the Atlanta Hawks in February 1994, and that September he signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns. While still in Phoenix, he was named Sixth Man of the Year in 1998. The Suns traded him to the Orlando Magic in August 1999, and two weeks after that the Magic traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks waived him in August 2000, and less than two weeks later he signed with the Utah Jazz. In August 2001, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks, who waived him after the 2001-02 season. Manning signed with the Detroit Pistons in February 2003 and retired from the NBA seven months later. He recorded career averages of 14.0 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Manning returned to Kansas for the first chapter of his post-NBA career. He worked as the director of student-athlete development and team manager until his promotion to assistant coach in March 2007. The Jayhawks won the national title in 2008, 20 years after the triumph of "Danny and the Miracles." That wasn't 2008's only achievement for Manning: he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame that November. Kansas advanced to the national championship game again in 2012 but lost to Kentucky by nine.
In March 2012, Manning was named head coach of the University of Tulsa's men's basketball team. After finishing with an overall record of 17-16 in Manning's first year at the helm, the Golden Hurricanes went 21-13 overall in 2013-14 and finished in a first place tie in Conference USA. Tulsa defeated Louisiana Tech 69-60 to claim the conference's tournament championship and earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 years (UCLA defeated Tulsa in the second round). Manning became the first Tulsa coach in 14 years to win C-USA Coach of the Year honors.