KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Kansas State Athletics) – Lon Kruger, who played and coached at Kansas State during an illustrious career in college basketball, was among nine individuals announced Wednesday (June 29) to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
Kruger will be joined in the 2022 Hall of Fame Induction class by fellow coaches John Beilein (Erie Community College/Nazareth/Le Moyne/Canisius/Richmond/West Virginia/Michigan) and Jerry Krause (Eastern Washington), along with former standout players Richard Hamilton (UConn), Larry Miller (North Carolina), Frank Selvy (Furman) and the late Jimmy Walker (Providence).
In addition, championship-winning head coaches Jim Calhoun (Northeastern/UConn/Saint Joseph) and Roy Williams (Kansas/North Carolina) will be formally honored after initially being recognized as part of the Hall of Fame’s founding class of 2006.
Kruger is the fifth person with K-State ties to be named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, including the third men’s basketball player, following legendary coaches Jack Gardner (2006) and Tex Winter (2010) and fellow players Rolando Blackman (2015) and Bob Boozer (2016).
The 2022 induction ceremonies will be held Sunday, November 20 at The College Basketball in Kansas City. Tickets will be available to the public in September. The ceremonies will be held in conjunction with the championship rounds of the 22nd annual Hall of Fame Classic, which will take place Monday-Tuesday, November 21-22 at the T-Mobile Center. For more information on the event, visit halloffameweekend.com.
Kruger is one of only two individuals (along with Darryl Winston) in school history to serve in three different capacities with the Wildcats, first as a player from 1971-74 then as an assistant coach to legendary head coach Jack Hartman from 1978-82 and finally as head coach from 1987-90. Kruger was part of 227 victories during his 11-year association with K-State, which included nine NCAA Tournament appearances (1972, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990) and three Big Eight Championships (1972, 1973 and 1980).
A native of nearby Silver Lake, Kansas, Kruger was a three-year letterman for Hartman from 1971-74, twice earning Big Eight Player of the Year honors following the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons, while he was the Big Eight Sophomore of the Year in 1971-72. He led the Wildcats to 61 wins, two NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of Big Eight regular-season titles (1972, 1973). He scored 1,063 points in his career, including a 17.6 points per game average his senior season. His jersey was retired in 2006. He also lettered in baseball at K-State.
Kruger is one of the few Wildcats to have played professionally in three sports (basketball, baseball and football). He was a ninth-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 1974 NBA Draft before playing professionally in Israel. He also played a season of minor league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and was invited to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys as a quarterback.
Kruger returned to his alma mater in 1978 to serve as an assistant to Hartman for four seasons (1978-82). During that span, he helped the Wildcats win 85 games, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1980, 1981, 1982) and an Elite Eight run with a group led by Rolando Blackman in 1981. He left K-State in 1982 for the first of his six head coaching opportunities at Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV).
Kruger followed Hartman as head coach in 1986, leading the Wildcats to 81 wins and becoming the first coach in school history to lead the school to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990). His best team was the 1987-88 squad, which featured All-American and 2014 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Mitch Richmond. His Wildcats tied the then school record for wins (25) and advanced all the way to the 1988 NCAA Midwest Regional Final in Pontiac, Michigan, where the Wildcats lost to eventual champion Kansas. Following the season, he was selected as the 1988 NABC District Coach of the Year.
Kruger is one of just six players in school history to be a part of conference championship teams both as a player (1972, 1973) and as a member of the coaching staff (1980).
Kruger served as head coach at six schools (UTRGV, K-State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma) during his illustrious career, guiding those schools to 674 victories and 20 NCAA Tournament appearances. He twice guided schools to the Final Four, including Florida in 1993-94 and Oklahoma in 2015-16. He is the first Division I head coach to lead five different schools (K-State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma) to the NCAA Tournament. He is a four-time conference Coach of the Year (SEC in 1992, 1994, Mountain West in 2008 and Big 12 in 2014).
Kruger is the second former coach to be inducted into a Hall of Fame this year, as Bob Huggins was selected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on April 2.