MANHATTAN, Kan. – Head coach Jerome Tang has been selected as the winner of the 2023 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club at its annual Final Four Awards Brunch at the Ballroom at Bayou Place in Houston, Texas on Sunday (April 2).
Tang was chosen for the award over a finalist list that included Purdue’s Matt Painter, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and Marquette’s Shaka Smart.
Tang becomes the first K-State head coach to earn the Naismith coaching honor and just the third to be selected as National Coach of the Year, joining Fred “Tex” Winter who was chosen for the honor by United Press International (UPI) in 1958 and Jack Hartman who was named the NABC Coach of the Year in 1980.
Overall, Tang is just the fourth head coach at a Big 12 institution to earn the Naismith coaching accolade since it was first awarded in 1987, joining a trio of Kansas head coaches in Larry Brown (1988), Roy Williams (1997) and Bill Self (2012). He is one of three current Big 12 coaches to have won the award, joining Self and TCU’s Jaime Dixon, who was selected for the honor while at Pittsburgh in 2009.
“I’m honored and blessed to receive the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Award,” said Tang. “There have been a lot of great coaching jobs this season and to be recognized among them is truly a humbling experience for me. I want to congratulate the other finalists – Coach (Matt) Painter, Coach (Kelvin) Sampson, Coach (Shaka) Smart for their tremendous years.
“I want to first thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for all the blessings in my life. I would not be where I’m at right now if it wasn’t for his faithfulness in my life and guidance.
“There are so many people to mention who have put me in this position. I want to thank our players and staff. I can’t begin to express my appreciation to them for all their hard work and sacrifice this season. We started with Markquis (Nowell) and Ish (Massoud) and it grew to 15 players who became brothers on and off the court, enabling us to go from a team picked last in the Big 12 to one who won 26 games and advanced to the Elite Eight. I will always be indebted to them.
“I have the best coaching staff in America, from associate head coach Ulric Maligi to assistant coaches Jareem Dowling and Rodney Perry to my chief of staff Marco Borne to director of operations Bailey Bachamp to director of player development Austin Carpenter to director of video operations Anthony Winchester, director of strategies Kevin Sutton, volunteer analyst Al Grushkin, strength coach Phil Baier, athletic trainer Luke Sauber to all of our graduate assistant and student managers. I’m blessed and honored that I get to live life with these incredible men and women every day.
“I also want to thank our university president Dr. Richard Linton, athletic director Gene Taylor and executive associate AD Casey Scott for giving me the opportunity to be at K-State. I’m fortunate every day to be at such a special place. I’m excited about the future with their support.
“I’m not here today without the love, support and sacrifice of my family. I want to thank my parents, Paul and Bano Tang, my brother Mark, sister Kim, my wife, Careylyen, our children Seven and Aylyn as well as my in-loves, Calvin and Carolyn Carter.
“I have been fortunate to be around quality people throughout my life. Dr. Jennifer Cooper gave me my first coaching job back at Heritage Christian Academy. Scott (Drew) gave me the opportunity to coach in college at Baylor, where I was influenced by coaches like Matthew Driscoll, Paul Mills, Grant McCasland, Alvin Brooks III, John Jakus and Bill Petersen and countless players.
“I share this tremendous honor with all these individuals. I’m truly blessed.”
Tang has been named a finalist for several National Coach of the Year honors, including the Joe B. Hall Award (top first-year Division I head coach), the Ben Jobe Award (top Division I minority coach) and the Jim Phelan Award (Division I Coach of the Year). He has also been District Coach of the Year by the NABC and USBWA.
Tang was the runner-up for The Associated Press’ National Coach of the Year, finishing with 13 votes behind Smart, who garnered 24 from a national media panel of 58 voters.
Picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll and armed with just two returning players, Tang guided the Wildcats to a 26-10 overall record and a spot in the Elite Eight, which was the 13th in school history and the first since 2017-18. The 26 wins are the third-most in school history, trailing the school-record 29 in 2009-10 and the 27 in 2012-13, and just the eighth 25-win campaign and first since 2017-18. His win total was the second-most by a first-year Division I head coach, trailing Duke’s Jon Scheyer (27-9).
Tang and Texas’ Rodney Terry were the only first-year Division I head coaches to advance to his team to the Elite Eight in 2022-23. Overall, Tang is the 11th first-year head coach to direct his team to Elite Eight since 1996-97, while he is just the fourth first-time head coach, joining North Carolina’s Bill Guthridge in 1997-98 and Hubert Davis in 2021-22 and Kent State’s Stan Heath in 2001-02.
Tang was the consensus Big 12 Coach of the Year, earning the honor from both the league coaches and AP after helping K-State rise from being picked last in the preseason Big 12 poll to finishing in a tie for third place with an 11-7 record. He is the seventh head coach in school history to earn conference Coach of the Year honors, including the second (Bruce Weber in 2013) to win the honor in his first season.
Tang was selected as the 25th head men’s basketball coach at K-State on March 21, 2022, after serving as the one of the chief architects in helping build Baylor into a national powerhouse in his 19 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach from 2003 to 2022.