100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Danny Manning, basketball

Danny Manning, Mitchell Richmond
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Danny Manning, Dave Stern
Danny Manning
Danny Manning, Lorenzen Wright
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 09:00:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Danny Manning authored one of the greatest college basketball careers in history at the University of Kansas.

Six months after leading the Jayhawks to the 1988 NCAA title, Manning helped the U.S. men’s basketball team earn a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Manning finished third on Team USA in scoring, averaging 11.4 points per game, and second in rebounding (6.0 rpg) behind David Robinson.

Manning scored in double figures in all five pool play games, including 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds during the 102-35 dismantling of Egypt during the clinching game.

During a lopsided quarterfinal win against Puerto Rico, Manning led the U.S. squad with a game-high 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

He went scoreless during a semifinal loss to the Soviet Union, which went on to win the gold medal.

The loss, which came against a team of all professional players, prompted the inclusion of NBA players and the formation of the Dream Team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Manning bounced back with 10 points, four rebounds and a game-best three steals in the bronze-medal match against Australia.

Manning — who moved to Lawrence from North Carolina for his senior year of high school after his dad, Ed, was hired as an assistant coach at KU — was chosen as the Kansas Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American in 1984.

Danny Manning
Kansas University's Danny Manning follows through on a slam dunk during practice in Kansas City, Mo., April 1, 1988. Kansas will play Duke Saturday in the semifinals of the NCAA basketball tournament.

He enjoyed a terrific career with the Jayhawks, leaving the program as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

But Manning is best known for the improbable NCAA tourney run his senior season, powering “Danny and the Miracles” to a championship and winning Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

He scored 31 points with 18 rebounds and five steals in the championship game upset of Oklahoma.

Manning was a three-time Big Eight Player of the Year (1986-88), two-time consensus first-team All-American (1987, 1988) and the 1988 national college player of the year — winning the Wooden, Naismith and National Association of Basketball Coaches awards.

Danny Manning, Chris Piper
Kansas' Danny Manning hoists a banner aloft as teammate Chris Piper cuts the net after the Jayhawks beat Kansas State 71-58 to win the Midwest Regional Final on Sunday, March 27, 1988, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.

KU retired his No. 25 jersey in 1992.

Manning was the No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988, spending his first six seasons with the team. He was an NBA All-Star in 1993 and 1994.

After leaving the Clippers, Manning played for Atlanta (1994), Phoenix (1994-99), Milwaukee (1999-2000), Utah (2000-01), Dallas (2001-02) and Detroit (2003).

He was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year with the Suns in 1998, though his NBA career was hampered by knee injuries.

Manning, a power forward, averaged in double figures in 10 of 15 NBA seasons, including a career-best 22.8 points per game with the Clippers in 1992-93. He remains one of the top 250 career scorers in NBA history.

Danny Manning, Dave Stern
Danny Manning, left, of the University of Kansas, shakes hands with NBA Commissioner Dave Stern at the NBA draft in New York's Felt Forum, June 29, 1988. Manning, the number one draft pick, was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Manning finished his career averaging 14 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

After his playing career ended, Manning returned to Lawrence as an assistant coach with the KU men’s team from 2006-12, including the 2008 NCAA championship season.

He served as Tulsa’s head coach from 2012-14, going 38-29 and winning Conference USA Coach of the Year, before spending six seasons as Wake Forest’s head coach (2014-20), finishing 78-111.

He also spent time as an assistant for the 2014 USA Men’s U18 National Team.

Manning, who led the Golden Hurricane and Demon Deacons to the NCAA Tournament one time each, was an assistant on Maryland coach Mark Turgeon’s staff last season. Turgeon and Manning played three seasons together with the Jayhawks in the mid-1980s.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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