Kansas continues preparation for NCAA Tournament opener
Jayhawks and Hilltoppers to square off at Sprint Center in KC in NCAA Tournament
2008 Final Four Most Outstanding Player to be honored
Interview compiled by LaRenn DiPede, Kansas communications student assistant
KU Basketball vs. Washburn (Photos by Jeff & Laura Jacobsen)
Kurtis Townsend enters his eighth season at the University of Kansas. Since his arrival in Lawrence, Townsend has been a part of the KU program which has won a national championship, reached three NCAA Tournament Elite Eights, four NCAA Sweet 16s, seven Big 12 regular-season titles and five conference tournament crowns.
In summer 2010, Townsend was ranked 12th in the Top 25 High-Major Assistants by Foxsports.com. Townsend played a major role in recruiting KU's NBA draftees Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur and 2010 first-team Consensus All-American Sherron Collins. He also recruited KU guard Josh Selby who was ranked No. 1 in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com.
Townsend joined the Jayhawk staff in 2004 after serving as an assistant under Perry Clark at the University of Miami for one season. Regarded as one of the top recruiters in college basketball, Townsend also served as an assistant at Southern California, Michigan, California and Eastern Kentucky.
Prior to Miami, Townsend spent two seasons at USC helping guide the Trojans to two Pac-10 Tournament championship games. In 2001-02, his first season with the Trojans, USC finished 22-10, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and finishing the season ranked 18th in the nation by the Associated Press.
Before his arrival at USC, Townsend spent three seasons at Michigan helping lead the Wolverines to the NIT in 2000. He was also an assistant at Eastern Kentucky in 1997-98 following four seasons at California (1993-97), where he helped coach the Golden Bears to three NCAA Tournament appearances (1994, 1996, 1997), including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1997.
Townsend has coached numerous NBA players including KU's contingent from the last four seasons - Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins. Additionally, he has mentored Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Tremaine Fowlkes, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ed Gray, Sean Marks, Michael Stewart, Jamal Crawford, Lou Bullock, Sam Clancy and Guillermo Diaz. While at Cal, he also coached current NFL player Tony Gonzalez.
Townsend began his coaching career at the high school level in his hometown of San Jose, Calif., having served as an assistant coach at Leland (1984-87) and Del Mar (1987-89). He then became head coach at Leigh (1989-91) where his teams won two league titles and later advanced to the state championship. From there, Townsend was head coach at Willow Glen High School (1991-93) where his team made it to the sectional finals two-straight years.
Townsend played point guard at Western Kentucky for two seasons (1978-80), helping the Hilltoppers to the 1980 Ohio Valley Conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid. He played the 1981 season in the CBA for the Montana Golden Nuggets and earned a bachelor's degree in recreation from Western Kentucky in 1982.
Prior to transferring to Western Kentucky, Townsend played two seasons at Menlo (Calif.) Junior College where he earned first team all-state and All-America honorable mention honors in 1978.
Townsend is married to the former Linda Woodson. He has five children: Tanika, Marques, Keisha, Kaliyah and Myka.