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Know Your KU History: Steve Woodberry

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He played with greats like Adonis Jordan, Rex Walters, and Greg Ostertag, but Steve Woodberry was as important as any of those players while guiding Kansas to two Final Fours.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Trust me when I say this: Steve Woodberry will be a Division One head coach within five years. The current Wake Forest assistant is destined to run a program of his own and if his boss Danny Manning is successful in Winston-Salem, the eyes of those without head coaches will turn their eyes to Manning’s staff. Woodberry has been tutored under Barry Hinson and Cuonzo Martin as well and has seen success at every stop he has made in his coaching career.

This is a man who is no stranger to hard work. He worked from the bottom, biding his time, and eventually ended up on top. He’s doing it as a coach, and all the further he needs to look for inspiration was his career at Kansas.

I always felt that Woodberry was an unappreciated part of the Kansas teams he played on, but to me, he was always one of the most the most steady. He improved from year to year, eventually leading the team in scoring in his senior season of 1993-94. Perhaps he was overshadowed because he rarely started, making 98 appearances off the bench in four years compared to just 40 starts, 35 of those coming in his senior campaign where he started every game.

But honestly, the reason he continued to come off the bench is because Kansas was deep at guard every year of Woodberry’s tenure at Kansas. KU had Terry Brown and Adonis Jordan grabbing most of the minutes in 1990-91, Woodberry’s freshman year. He played 13.7 minutes per game that season, averaging three points per game. That KU team went all the way to the NCAA championship game.

Transfer Rex Walters arrived in Steve’s sophomore season, taking Brown’s minutes. Woodberry averaged 24 minutes per game and became more than just an energy guy off the bench. That season, he averaged a respectable 7.2 points per game.

Woodberry was again in the regular rotation in his junior campaign, logging 25 minutes per game, but he took 80 more shots that season and his average bumped to just under 11 points per contest. He was still coming off the bench behind Jordan and Walters. KU again had a successful run to the Final Four. As for personal accolades, Woodberry was named second team All-Big 8 despite the fact that he only started three games for the Jayhawks.

Finally, his senior year, he became the go-to shooting guard as Walters had graduated. A freshman by the name of Jacque Vaughn had replaced Jordan and KU’s backcourt was set. Woodberry averaged 15.5 points per game in an average of 32 minutes per contest. He also averaged 3.9 assists per game and a shade under two steals per match. Steve Woodberry had become a complete player at Kansas and was again rewarded as a second teamer on the All-Big 8 squad.

The Wichita native tried his hand at NBA basketball, signing with the Indiana Pacers as an undrafted free agent, but he never made it in the NBA. Instead, he played in foreign leagues and found great success in both Europe and Australia. He won championships in Switzerland and Lithuania to go along with a league MVP award that he won in Australia.

Upon return to the US, Woodberry began coaching in the college ranks. He started at Missouri State, and has since been hired on at Tulsa and Wake Forest on Danny Manning’s staffs at those schools. Look for great things from Coach Woodberry in the future. The path he is taking as a coach is mimicking the one he took as a player and we all know how that one turned out.