WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Leaving Tulsa for Wake Forest was no slam dunk, not even for as good a basketball player as Danny Manning.
“It was first head-coaching job,’’ Manning said Saturday. “Tulsa gave me an opportunity that I’ll always be thankful and grateful for.’’
Manning said he was ultimately swayed by Wake Forest itself, its people such as Athletics Director Ron Wellman and President Nathan Hatch, and the conference in which the Deacons compete.
Having accepted the job on Friday, Manning will be present for a media conference on campus at 6 p.m. Tuesday, which will be followed by a public introduction to the university and its fan base scheduled from 6:30 to around 7 on the main quad of campus, formally known as Hearn Plaza.
“Wake Forest is very similar to Tulsa in terms of size, the academic integrity, the quality of people,’’ Manning said. “And I grew up around Wake Forest basketball and the pull of what the university stands for, and its core values, I felt very comfortable with.
“Honestly, Mr. Wellman had a big part in that, and Dr. Hatch as well, and the ACC is the best basketball conference in the country.’’
Manning was born in Hattiesburg, Miss., but spent most of his childhood in Greensboro. He’s returning to the area after becoming a national college player of the year at Kansas, competing in the 1988 Olympics, playing 15 seasons in the NBA and serving on the staff at Kansas for nine years.
He took over the head position at Tulsa before the 2012-13 season and coached the Golden Hurricane to a 38-29 record over two seasons. This past season, Tulsa rallied from a 10-12 record to win nine straight, beat Louisiana Tech for championship of Conference USA and secure the university’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2003.
Tulsa lost to UCLA in its first game of the NCAA to finish 21-13. Manning said leaving was not an easy decision.
“The support was overwhelming, the people were wonderful and I had a really good team of great kids with great character, who bought into the system,’’ Manning said.
Manning will be introduced Tuesday with his wife (Julie), son (Evan) and daughter (Taylor). He will have a question-and-answer session with the public at Hearn Plaza, after which he will be available for photographs.
Free refreshments will be provided for the first 500 fans in attendance. There will also be inflatable games and activities.