Born: February 19, 1960 (Pittsburg, KS)
Graduated: Bonner Springs High School, 1978; Kansas State University, 1982
A tireless competitor, no one outworked Ed Nealy on and off the basketball court. That dedication paid off in one of the most impressive careers in K-State basketball history.
Eddie Carl “Ed” Nealy was born in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he learned to play basketball from his father, who was a high school basketball coach. After playing for his father at Bonner Springs High School, Nealy was recruited by 1990 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Jack Hartman to play for Kansas State.
Nealy’s impact for the Wildcats was immediate as he broke into the starting lineup as a freshman, leading the Wildcats in rebounding his first season. It would be a trend that would repeat itself every year while Nealy was in Manhattan as he piled up the rebounds to become the school’s all-time leader with 1,069 by the time he graduated.
Although rebounding was a strength of Nealy’s game, he did everything else on the basketball court for the Wildcats as well. In fact, when he graduated from K-State, Nealy held spots in the school’s top ten in career scoring, career and single season double-doubles, career assists, career and single season steals, career games played, and career games started. To top it all off, Ed Nealy is the only Wildcat player to total over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for his career.
For all his efforts on the court, Nealy was recognized numerous times including being named an honorable mention All-American in 1982, the Big 8 Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1979, and a Big 8 All- Conference selection in 1982. His hard work also translated to the classroom as he was named a two-time Academic All-American as well.
Nealy as a Pro
Nealy was drafted by the Kansas City Kings in the eighth round of the 1982 NBA Draft. He went on to play ten professional seasons, including stints with the Kings, the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors, and the Chicago Bulls. For his career, he totaled 1,451 points and 1,799 rebounds. Nealy won an NBA title with the Chicago Bulls in 1993.
During the 1990 season in Chicago, Bulls Head Coach Phil Jackson said that of all his players, "I’d say Ed Nealy probably pleases me the most… He’s the first one there and works as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen in basketball… He’s like another coach for us. Its guys like that who make coaching really a pleasure.”
In 2003, Nealy was named to the Kansas State University All-Century Team and in 2011, the K-State basketball team named the Most Improved Player Award in his honor.