Lon Kruger, University of Oklahoma Men’s Basketball Coach, will receive the John R. Wooden Award®’s “Legends of Coaching™” honor in 2019. Coach Wooden’s daughter Nan Wooden was proud to announce his selection at the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s annual Wooden Award Tip-Off Luncheon. The luncheon features the head coaches from the Division I men’s basketball programs in Southern California. The “Legends of Coaching” honor recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standard of coaching success and personal integrity.
The “Legends of Coaching” award was adopted by the Wooden Award Steering Committee in 1999. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. Coach Kruger will be recognized during the Wooden Award Weekend April 11-13, 2019, as a part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s celebration of the greatest players and coaches in men’s and women’s college basketball. He will be awarded the honor during the 5th Annual ESPN College Basketball Awards on April 12, 2019.
Coach Kruger has 32 years of head coaching experience, including seven years as the head coach of the University of Oklahoma. He is the first Division I coach to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament and the first to take four different programs to Sweet 16 or beyond. Kruger is the 33rd head coach to win 600 Division I games and currently ranks tenth among active coaches. His collegiate teams have made postseason appearances in 22 of the last 29 years, including 17 NCAA Tournaments, five Sweet 16s, and two Final Fours. Coach Kruger has coached two Wooden Award All Americans: Buddy Hield, who won the Wooden Award in 2016; and Trae Young in 2018.
While at Florida, Coach Kruger and his wife, Barbara, were honored with consecutive Community Service Awards from the Gainesville Community Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, and in 1995 he was named the Gainesville (Fla.) Volunteer of the Year. From 1991-93, the couple served as co-chairpersons of Alachua County's Red Ribbon Campaign, a week-long program aimed at increasing awareness and promoting a drug-free environment for the community. Kruger was instrumental in starting the Coaches vs. Cancer's Las Vegas Classic, which has raised nearly $500,000 to benefit research, education and treatment programs for the Nevada Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. In 2018, he was named the council chair of Coaches vs. Cancer.