Lon Kruger to Receive Legends of Coaching Award
NORMAN – In his 33 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Lon Kruger has built his career on the foundation of hard work, humility, integrity and service. From becoming the first Division I coach to guide five different schools to the NCAA Tournament to his dedicated work with Coaches vs. Cancer, Kruger has established a reputation as a genuine leader, winning coach and community champion.
The John R. Wooden Award has recognized Kruger's accolades both on and off the court by selecting him as this season's recipient of its Legends of Coaching Award. The honor was announced at Tuesday's Wooden Award Tip-Off Luncheon by Nan Wooden, daughter of Hall of Fame coach John Wooden.
Created in 1999, the Legends of Coaching honor recognizes college coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standard of coaching success and personal integrity. 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.
“It's an incredible honor to be listed with the coaches who have previously earned this award. John Wooden set the standard for coaching and leading with integrity and it's humbling to be recognized for an honor rooted in the values that he cherished.”
- Lon Kruger
As this year's recipient, Kruger joins a prestigious list of previous honorees that includes Geno Auriemma, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Lute Olson, Bill Self, Dean Smith, Pat Summit and Roy Williams.
Kruger will be awarded the honor during the fifth annual ESPN College Basketball Awards on April 12, 2019.
“It's an incredible honor to be listed with the coaches who have previously earned this award,” said Kruger. “John Wooden set the standard for coaching and leading with integrity and it's humbling to be recognized for an honor rooted in the values that he cherished.”
Entering his eighth season as the Sooners' head coach, Kruger is the first Division I coach to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament and the only coach to win an NCAA Tournament game with five different programs. In 2015 he became the first coach since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to take four programs to the Sweet 16 or beyond. He has reached the Final Four in 1994 (Florida) and 2016 (Oklahoma) and owns the 10th-most victories (619) among active Division I head coaches.
Over the past three seasons in Norman, Kruger has mentored three NBA draft picks, two consensus All-Americans, a national player of the year (Buddy Hield) and a national freshman of the year (Trae Young).
In 2017, Kruger was honored with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Metropolitan Award for long and outstanding service to men's college basketball.
Kruger has also shown a passion for community leadership, particularly in the fight against cancer. Last month, he was named council chair of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide program partnering with the American Cancer Society and the NABC. Kruger has been a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council since 2007 and has been a longtime supporter of the American Cancer Society. As founder and chairman of the Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic, Kruger’s leadership has helped the event raise over $3.5 million over the last 11 years.
In 2017, Kruger was a recipient of the American Cancer Society’s prestigious St. George National Award for his extraordinary service to the community in support of the Society’s mission to save lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Kruger was also recognized in 2012 with the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award and in 2009 with the Legacy and Leadership Visionary Award from the ACS Las Vegas region.