MANHATTAN, Kan. – After leading Team USA to a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup this past summer, Kansas State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber was selected as the co-recipient of the 2019 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award on Monday (December 9).
Weber shared the honor with Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz, who also led the USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team to a gold medal on July 20-28 in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Just coaching a team for USA Basketball is a special honor in of itself – to just represent your country – and to win a gold medal like we did, made it even more special,” said Weber. “To throw another honor on to it, there aren’t even words to describe my emotions. It’s a special recognition that I’m very proud of. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to coach the U19 team and can’t thank the players and assistants Mike Hopkins, LeVelle Moton and Shane Southwell enough for their hard work and commitment to winning the gold medal.”
Since 1996, USA Basketball has awarded its National Coach of the Year honor to a USA Basketball head coach, who during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of the individual athlete and team performance at the highest levels of competition in a manner consistent with the highest ethical, professional and moral standards.
Weber, who served as a head coach in the USA Basketball system for the first time in his career, led Team USA to their seventh gold medal at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) U19 World Cup, including the first since 2015, with a perfect 7-0 record. Team USA capped their perfect performance with a 93-79 win over Mali in the gold-medal game in Heraklion, Greece on July 7.
Team USA averaged better than 100 points per game and won the tournament by an average of 28.7 points per game, including victories over New Zealand (111-71), Lithuania (102-84) and Senegal (87-58) to capture Group A then wins over Latvia (116-66) in the group of 16, Russia (95-80) in the medal round, Lithuania (102-67) in the semifinals and Mali (93-79) in the finals. The team ranked first in points per game (100.9), field goal percentage (.475), assists per game (28.6 apg.) and steals per game (15.9 spg.).
Leading tournament Cinderella – Mali — just 42-40 after a back-and-forth first half, the American opened the third period with a 12-0 run that eventually became a 17-2 stretch in a 59-42 lead with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter. Mali, who knocked off New Zealand, Puerto Rico and France en route to the finals, never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“Our guys have been great since day one, they bought in,” said Weber upon winning the gold medal in July. “Everyone said we played hard, but it was the team that played hard, and man they played hard. When we shared the ball and played hard, and played good defense, we were unstoppable (in the tournament).”
Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry was named the most valuable player of the U19 World Cup after averaging 13.1 points and 7.9 rebounds for Team USA. Weber and the Wildcats will face Perry and the rest of his Bulldog teammates at the Never Forget Tribute Classic this Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Perry was joined on the five-member all-tournament team by Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton.
“Jeff Walz and Bruce Weber guided our 2019 USA men’s and women’s U19 national teams back atop the gold medal podium,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball chief executive officer. “USA Basketball is grateful for their leadership and commitment, and we are proud to recognize them for their tremendous efforts.”
Weber has been actively involved in USA Basketball for close to two decades. He served as a court coach at the trials for the 1991 Pan American Games Team and spent time with the 1989 USA Men’s World University Games and 1985 R. Williams Jones Cup Team that were led K-State alum and former Purdue head coach Gene Keady. Weber most recently served on USA Basketball’s Men’s Junior National Committee, which selects coaches and players for its college-aged competitions.
One of the winningest active Division I coaches with over 450 career wins and 13 NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, Weber is in the midst of his eighth season at K-State after being named the school’s 24th head men’s basketball coach on March 31, 2012. He has guided the Wildcats to 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances five times during his seven-year tenure, including consecutive 25-win campaigns the past two seasons for the first time in school history. He has also helped steer the program to a pair of Big 12 regular-season titles (2012-13, 2018-19) during his tenure, including the school’s first in 36 seasons in 2012-13.
Weber’s 155 wins are the third-most by a head coach in school history and the most since Jack Hartman retired as the school’s winningest coach with 295 victories in 1986. He is fourth coach (Hartman, Tex Winter and Frank Martin) to take the school to at least five NCAA Tournaments in a tenure, while only Hartman (with seven) with more 20-win seasons.
Weber, 63, has a compiled a 468-247 (.655) record in 22 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Southern Illinois (1998-2003) and Illinois (2003-11). His .655 winning percentage ranks 28th among active Division I head coaches, while he is one of just 21 active coaches to take three different schools to the NCAA Tournament.
Weber has won numerous Coach of the Year accolades in his career, including consensus National Coach of the Year honors in 2005. He has also been named conference Coach of the Year three times.
Dating back to 1979 as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the U19 World Cup is played every two years and features the world’s top players 19 years old and younger. Team USA has now won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal in 14 U19 competitions, including gold in four of the past six U19 World Cups (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019).
Courtesy: K-State Athletics