Wake Forest hires Manning from Tulsa

Danny Manning, the former Kansas star who spent the past two seasons coaching Tulsa, was hired Friday as Wake Forest’s basketball coach.

The school will introduce him during a news conference next week on campus in Winston-Salem, N.C. Both athletic director Ron Wellman — who also chairs the NCAA tournament selection committee — and Manning are in North Texas for the Final Four.

“There have been very few players who have had as much success on the court as Danny,” Wellman said. “He has played for and worked under a number of legendary coaches and he has been successful in his coaching career. We fully expect that Danny’s coaching career will reflect the excellence of his playing career.”

Manning was 38-29 with two postseason berths in two seasons at Tulsa.

His hiring ends Wake Forest’s two-week search for a replacement for Jeff Bzdelik, who resigned under intense public pressure following four mostly unremarkable seasons.

Manning interviewed this week and toured the campus in Winston-Salem on Wednesday before taking the job two days later.

Manning’s hiring is considered somewhat risky because of his lack of head coaching experience, but there’s no question he brings instant name recognition to a program that dropped near the bottom of the expanded Atlantic Coast Conference.

He attended Greensboro Page High School before his family moved to Lawrence, Kan., for his senior year, and then when it was time to choose a college, he picked Kansas over North Carolina.

After his “Danny and the Miracles” Kansas team captured the national title, Manning was taken first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1988 NBA draft.

He made two All-Star teams during a career marred by injuries before joining Bill Self’s staff at Kansas in 2003. He was promoted to assistant coach in 2006 and two years ago earned his first head coaching job at Tulsa.

Self called Manning “one of the most accomplished, humble people you’ll ever meet.”

The 47-year-old Manning took the Golden Hurricane to the CBI in his first year and followed that by guiding them to the Conference USA tournament title and their first NCAA tournament berth since 2003. They earned a No. 13 seed and lost to UCLA in their tournament opener.

Tulsa AD Derrick Gragg said in a statement that the school has begun pre-screening candidates to replace Manning but has no timetable to pick his successor.

Gragg says Tulsa made “an attractive and competitive offer” to entice Manning to stay and vowed that President Steadman Upham “is committed to return Tulsa basketball to an elite level.”

Wake Forest never came close to making the NCAA tournament under Bzdelik, who effectively rebuilt the program from the ground up before he stepped down March 20.

Bzdelik went 51-76 with a 17-51 record in ACC play, and won only two league road games.

Eight players transferred out during his tenure, and the Demon Deacons have been one of the youngest programs in the country — with only one fourth-year senior in each of the past two years.

Barring any more transfers, Manning will inherit a team with eight players who are either juniors or redshirt juniors — including promising big man Devin Thomas and tempo-setting guard Codi Miller-McIntyre.

As details of Manning’s hiring trickled across Twitter, Miller-McIntyre tweeted: “Finally it’s over! Time to get back to work.”

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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