The Kent era has produced seven postseason appearances and four NBA First Round Draft selections. In the 2008-09 season he became the school’s all-time wins leader (219), passing Basketball Hall of Famer Howard Hobson to top that list.
Kent, the 2002 Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year, is the only coach to have led the Ducks to five NCAA Tournament appearances, as well as Pac-10 regular-season and two postseason tournament titles. He is also the only coach in the Pacific Northwest to take his team to the NCAA Elite Eight this decade – and he’s done that twice (2002, 2007). Kent has also guided the Ducks to the NIT Final Four on two occasions (1999, 2004).
Under his direction, the Duck men’s basketball team has ranked No. 1 amongst Pac-10 Conference schools in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. Oregon’s current APR score of 975 (out of a possible 1,000) is nearly 50 points higher than the average Division I men’s basketball team (928). The Ducks recorded a perfect score of 1,000 during the 2006-07 season.
Kent is a combined 70-28 versus all teams in the Pacific Northwest, including a 49-24 mark against Pac-10 rivals Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. His nine wins over UCLA are twice as many as any other Oregon coach and represent a third of UO’s all-time wins (25) against the most storied program in the nation.
Kent has served as head coach, assistant coach and committee member for USA Basketball, winning a pair of gold medals in 2001 and 2003. He has coached some of the world’s greatest players, including NBA All-Stars and 2008 Olympic gold medalists Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and Deron Williams.
Among his Duck pupils are Pac-10 Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Luke Ridnour (2003), first team All-Pac-10 players Alex Scales (2000), Bryan Bracey (2001), Frederick Jones (2002), Ridnour (2002-03), Luke Jackson (2003-04) and Aaron Brooks (2007).
Kent has mentored the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (Ridnour, 2001), All-Pac-10 freshmen Ridnour (2001), Jackson (2001), Brooks (2004), Malik Hairston (2005), Bryce Taylor (2005) and Tajuan Porter (2007). Seven of his players went on to become NBA Draft choices: Bracey (2001), Jones (2002), Ridnour (2003), Jackson (2004), Brooks (2007), Hairston (2008) and Maarty Leunen (2008).
Kent is the Second Vice President for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He serves on both the NABC Executive Board and the Wooden Award’s Board of Governors.
Fox Sports Net and CBS have both requested Kent’s services as a basketball analyst for television broadcasts. He has frequently contributed to FSN’s coverage of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Conference Tournament, while serving in a similar role for Final Four coverage on CBS.
First as a player at Oregon with the Kamikaze Kids, and now as the school’s 18th head coach, the one thing that has remained unchanged is the passion Kent professes for a program that has molded his life far beyond anything you can pick up on a basketball court.
The Rockford, Ill., native became the first African-American head coach in the history of University of Oregon athletics when he was named to the post April 10, 1997. It took little time for that passion to take hold on Eugene and the surrounding community, which longed for a return to the days when the Kamikaze Kids whipped fans into a frenzy.
In his first year, he worked wonders as the Ducks finished in a tie for fifth-place in the Pac-10 and just missed a winning record (13-14) and a postseason berth in 1997-98. He followed that with a trip to the NIT Final Four in 1998-99.
The next season laid the foundation for the current era that has witnessed Oregon’s ascension to the upper echelon of the Pac-10.
The Ducks reached 22 victories in 1999-00 for the first time since 1944-45 and with their NCAA Tournament bid, made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in 23 years. That season allowed Oregon to collect the best recruiting class in the league, led by Luke Jackson and Luke Ridnour, and that recruiting class, in turn, set the table for a magical run in 2001-02.
That season, Kent directed Oregon to its first outright league title since 1938-39, going 14-4 and leading what was at that time a record six Pac-10 teams into the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1960, defeating Montana, Wake Forest and Texas along the way. His team went 16-0 at McArthur Court and 26-9 overall.
In addition to his 2002 league coach of the year honors, the NABC, USBWA and Basketball Times all recognized him as their district coach of the year, and he was one of 20 Naismith Coach of the Year finalists. The 14 Pac-10 victories were the most in school history and tied the school’s all-time league mark. And he watched Oregon set 11 school and two Pac-10 single-season records, while Fred Jones was a NBA First Round selection by the Indiana Pacers.
The following year, Kent led the Ducks to their first Pac-10 Tournament title in 2002-03 with a 23-10 record. That season also saw him coach Pac-10 Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Luke Ridnour, as the Ducks won 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 64 years, and made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in 42 years.
The 2003-04 season may have been Kent’s finest coaching yet. Despite losing his point guard to injury for 10 games during the heart of the Pac-10 season, the Ducks regrouped the final month of the year to tie for fourth in the league with an 18-12 overall record, and advanced to the NIT Final Four with two heart-stopping wins over Colorado and Notre Dame along the way.
Recent years have seen him as the head coach of USA Basketball’s Junior National team, a squad he guided to a 7-1 record and a fifth place finish at the 2003 FIBA World Championships in Greece. Kent also coached the juniors to a gold medal at the 2003 Global Games.
He was also an assistant coach for the 2001 USA Basketball 21-and-Under national team that won the gold medal at the summer games in Japan with an 8-0 record.
As the head coach at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., from 1991-92 to 1996-97, Kent put together a 90-80 ledger, including a 23-8 mark in 1996-97 and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The tournament bid, the first at the school since 1989, was the result of the Gaels’ fourth conference title in school history. Kent also guided the Gaels to an 18-10 ledger in 1994-95 and still ranks second on the all-time win chart at Saint Mary’s.
Kent served as an assistant at Stanford under Mike Montgomery for two years (1990-91), helping the Cardinal advance to the NIT both years and winning the NIT title in 1991.
As an assistant to Boyd Grant at Colorado State (1988-1989), he aided the Rams in their postseason bids in the 1988 NIT (advancing to the semifinals) and 1989 NCAA Tournament second round after clinching the Western Athletic Conference championship.
From 1980 through 1987, Kent and his family lived in Saudi Arabia where he coached the al-Khaleej Club in Sayhat for three years, helping the team advance to the playoffs each year. He also worked for the Arabian American Oil Company in Dhahran.
Kent began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1977 as the freshman coach under Dick Harter and again assisted in 1979 as an understudy to Jim Haney. In between, he coached Eugene’s O’Hara Catholic School for one season.
Kent is a strong fixture in the Eugene-Springfield community. In 2004 he was recognized for his commitment to community service by the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. That organization bestowed Kent with their annual Hope Award.
Kent is also the local honorary chairman of the Children’s Miracle Network and is active with the American Cancer Society and the Coaches Versus Cancer campaign. Additionally, he is a regular participant in local activities during each February’s Black History month.
Kent graduated from UO in 1977 with a degree in community service and public affairs. He completed his collegiate career averaging 7.1 points and 1.8 rebounds while playing with the likes of Greg Ballard, Stu Jackson and Ron Lee. Kent helped lead the Ducks to a No. 8 ranking as a sophomore.
In his time as a student-athlete at UO, Kent was recognized with the Outstanding Service Award for community service and picked up the March of Dimes Outstanding Achievement Award. A Parade Magazine All-American in 1973 at Rockford, Ill., West High School, he was also named Scholastic All-America by Scholastic Magazine. A National Honor Society member, Kent (Born Jan. 22, 1955) received the American Legion Outstanding Achievement Award and was named all-state in Illinois.