One coach certainly isn’t shying away from the Western Kentucky men’s basketball job.
Kurtis Townsend, a former WKU player and current Kansas assistant, said in a radio interview Monday on “Steve Gorman SPORTS!” that coaching the Hilltoppers would be “a dream job for me.”
Townsend, now in his 12th season on the Kansas bench, is the longest-tenured assistant coach in Jayhawks history. His time has included the program’s 2008 NCAA championship.
No. 1 seed Kansas faces Maryland on Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, and while Townsend made it clear Monday that he has interest in the WKU position, he said his full focus is on the Jayhawks’ players.
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“Right now, the biggest thing is no distractions for these guys so they can reach as high as they can,” Townsend said. “All that stuff ends up working out the way it’s supposed to.”
Townsend, 58, played point guard at Western Kentucky for two seasons from 1978-80 after transferring from Menlo (Calif.) Junior College.
He helped the Hilltoppers to the 1980 Ohio Valley Conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid. He spent the 1981 season in the CBA for the Montana Golden Nuggets and earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation from Western Kentucky in 1982.
“I love Western Kentucky,” Townsend said Monday. “I found my wife there. She went to school there, too, and is from Nashville originally. ... I loved it out there. They care about basketball, I know that.”
Townsend, who has been ranked in recent years as one of the top recruiting assistants in the nation, played a major role in Kansas landing NBA draftees Andrew Wiggins, Ben McLemore, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright and Josh Selby, as well as 2010 Consensus All-American Sherron Collins.
Before joining the Jayhawks, he had assistant stints at Miami, Southern California, Michigan, California and Eastern Kentucky.
When WKU played Kansas in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Townsend told the Daily News that he has “great memories” of the school and Bowling Green.
“I’ve been back there and the place has really grown,” Townsend said at the time. “It’s a lot bigger than when I was there. It’s a pretty neat place, a nice college town and it kind of reminds me of Lawrence (Kan.), here, Bowling Green being so close to Nashville, and us being so close to Kansas City.”
There has been no timetable set for the announcement of WKU’s new coach, with both Athletics Director Todd Stewart and President Gary Ransdell saying the university must do its due diligence with the hire to “get it right.”
Former WKU coach Ray Harper resigned abruptly Thursday morning following the suspension of three Hilltopper guards — Fredrick Edmond, Chris McNeal and Marlon Hunter — after the outcome of a University Disciplinary Committee hearing Wednesday night.