Born: August 19, 1952 – Topeka, Kansas
Graduated: Silver Lake (KS) H.S., 1970; Kansas State University, 1975
A two-time Big-8 Conference basketball Player-of-the-Year at Kansas State University, and the Big-8’s all-time “Mr. Hustle” honoree, Lon Kruger of Silver Lake is considered one of the greatest players in K-State and league history.
As a prep senior at Silver Lake, he averaged 23 points per game in leading the Eagles to the state tournament, passed for 2,079 yards and 23 TDs as a quarterback and led his baseball team to the state tourney. Drafted by the Houston Astros out of high school, Kruger opted to play basketball at K-State where he signed as Coach Jack Hartman’s first recruit.
Kruger at K-State
Kruger instantly emerged as the team leader, earning Big-8 Sophomore-of-the-Year honors in helping KSU to two Big-8 titles and three NCAA tournaments. Kruger scored 1,063 career points including 17.6 per game as a senior. He shot 82.6 percent from the foul line, but was best-known as the “coach on the floor” as he directed K-State’s offense from his point guard position.
After turning down an invitation from the Dallas Cowboys’ 1975 rookie camp, Kruger embarked on a coaching career where he has led four Division I schools to 20-win seasons and has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tourney. He returned to K-State as the head Coach in 1986 and became the only coach in school history to lead the Wildcats to four straight NCAA tourney appearances. He went on to Florida where he led the Gators to two NCAA tourneys including the 1994 Final Four. Kruger then led Illinois to the NCAA tourney in his first season in 1997. Kruger spent three years as head coach of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks before returning to college ranks at UNLV.
Presented by Jerry R. Braden