Phog Allen was a pioneer in the sport of basketball, both as a player and as a coach. He is considered to be the “Father of Basketball Coaching” and his influence can still be felt in the game today.

Allen was born in Jamesport, Missouri in 1885. He lettered in baseball and basketball at the University of Kansas, where he was also a student assistant to James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. After graduating from Kansas, Allen coached at Baker University, Haskell Indian Nations University, and Warrensburg Teachers College.

James and Phog

Coaching

Phog Allen coached the following teams:

  • Baker University (1905-1908)
  • Kansas University (1907-1909, 1919-1956)
  • Haskell Institute—now Haskell Indian Nations University (1908-1909)
  • Warrensburg Teachers College—now the University of Central Missouri (1912-1919)

In 1907, Allen returned to Kansas as the head basketball coach. He would go on to coach the Jayhawks for 39 seasons, compiling a record of 746-264. His teams won 24 conference championships and three national titles. Allen was also the head football coach at Kansas for one season in 1920, amassing a record of 34-19-3. He also coached baseball at Kansas for two seasons, in 1941 and 1942, tallying a mark of 6-17-1.

Player’s Coach

Here are some prominent players that were coached by Phog Allen:

  • Paul Endacott
  • Bill Johnson
  • Clyde Lovellette
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Bob Dole
  • Dean Smith

Allen was also the coach of the Olympic gold medalist basketball team in 1952.

Dean Smith

Phog Allen coached Dean Smith at the University of Kansas. Smith played reserve guard on the Kansas team that won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title in 1952. Dean Smith only played for Phog Allen for two years at Kansas before he transferred to the University of North Carolina after his sophomore year.

Dean Smith and Phog Allen had a complicated relationship. As a player on Allen’s teams at Kansas, Smith later worked as an assistant coach under Allen. Smith admired Allen’s coaching ability, but he also disagreed with some of Allen’s views on race. After Allen retired, Smith took over as the head coach at North Carolina. Smith went on to become one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, and he credited Allen with helping him develop his coaching philosophy. However, Smith also said he never forgot Allen’s views on race, and that he tried to make sure his own teams were more inclusive.

Wilt Chamberlain

Phog Allen and Wilt Chamberlain had a complicated relationship. Allen coached the Kansas basketball team when Chamberlain arrived in 1955. Allen was a legendary coach, but he also held known conservative views on race. Chamberlain played flamboyantly and outspokenly shared his views on race. The two men often clashed, but they also grudgingly respected each other.

Allen helped Chamberlain develop his game, and Chamberlain helped Allen win his first NCAA championship. However, the two never really agreed on race. Chamberlain left Kansas after his sophomore season, and he never forgave Allen for his racial views. The two men died without reconciling their differences – Allen in 1999 and Chamberlain in 2016. Their relationship reflected the changing racial times in America.

 Legacy: Coach Phog

Allen coached visionarily and ahead of his time. He pioneered using a full-court press and emphasized the importance of teamwork and fundamentals. Allen also communicated greatly and got the most out of his players.

Phog Allen co-founded the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), which later became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Allen strongly advocated for amateurism in college sports, and he helped develop the NCAA’s rules and regulations. He also served as the NCAA’s first president.

Allen significantly contributed to the NCAA. He shaped the organization’s policies and procedures, and he helped make college basketball popular. He also modeled for many coaches and administrators, and his legacy continues influencing the NCAA today.

Beware The Phog

Phog Allen stopped coaching at the University of Kansas in 1956 at age 70. He had served as the head coach at Kansas for 40 years. Allen won 24 conference championships and three national titles over his tenure. He retired because he felt tired and wanted to spend more time with family.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Allen in its inaugural 1959 class. He died in 1974 at age 88. Allen leaves an immense legacy. He is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, and his influence remains in the game today. Allen’s teams always played tough, physical basketball with great coaching. He also excelled as a teacher, helping develop many young players into stars. Phog Allen was a true pioneer in basketball – a great coach, teacher, and mentor whose legacy will live on for generations.

Hometown Athletes

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Whalen High School

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