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Bob Knight coaching tree: Mike Krzyzewski, Chris Beard among dozens impacted by college basketball icon

Bob Knight’s coaching tree is one of the most illustrious of college basketball history, if for no other reason than for the fact that it produced Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski played for Knight at Army and worked for him briefly at Indiana before embarking on the winningest head coaching career of all time in Division I men’s basketball, a run highlighted by five national titles at Duke.

The relationship between Knight and Krzyzewski featured some tribulations over the years as both competed for national titles at major brands in the sport. In the wake of Knight’s death on Wednesday, however, Krzyzewski left little doubt about the impact Knight had on his own journey.

“We lost one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball,” Krzyzewski said. “Clearly, he was one of a kind. Coach Knight recruited me, mentored me, and had a profound impact on my career and in my life. This is a tremendous loss for our sport and our family is deeply saddened by his passing.”

While Krzyzewski is the headliner of Knight’s coaching tree, he is just one of many former players or assistants under Knight who went on to reach lofty heights in the coaching profession. As the sports world continues reflecting on the life and legacy of Knightthe good and the bad — here is a look at the notable names from his coaching tree.

Assistants

Chris Beard

Beard served as an assistant under Knight during his entire run at Texas Tech from 2001-08 and stayed with the program through the 2010-11 season under Pat Knight. In 2015, Beard landed a Division I head coaching job of his own and has since amassed a 171-73 record at Little Rock, Texas Tech and Texas. He is entering his first season at Ole Miss.

Mike Davis

Davis served as an assistant under Knight at Indiana from 1997 to 2000 and succeeded him, first as IU’s interim coach and then as the full-time coach. He reached NCAA Tournaments with the Hoosiers, UAB and Texas Southern, and is now entering his sixth season at Detroit Mercy.

Don DeVoe

Devoe worked as an assistant for Knight at Army for several seasons before embarking on a coaching career that took him all over the country, headlined by an 11-year run at Tennessee that included six NCAA Tournament appearances.

Murry Bartow

Bartow worked as an assistant under Knight from 1985-87 before guiding UAB and East Tennessee State to NCAA Tournament appearances as a coach.

Dave Bliss

Bliss worked under Knight at Army and Indiana. His Division I college coaching career ended in shame at Baylor after stops at New Mexico, SMU and Oklahoma.

Bob Weltich

Weltich worked for Knight in his early years at Indiana before serving as the head coach at Ole Miss, Texas, FIU and South Alabama.

Players

Mike Krzyzewski

Krzyzewski played four seasons for Knight at Army and spent one year as an assistant for him at Indiana before returning to West Point to begin a legendary head coaching career. Krzyzewski is one of just five coaches with more all-time victories (1,202) than Knight (902) on the NCAA’s official ledger.

Mike Woodson

Woodson never coached with Knight but starred under him as a player from 1976-80 before embarking on a four-decade journey through the NBA as a player, assistant and coach. He returned to Indiana as its coach in 2021 and has guided the Hoosiers to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances through two seasons on the job.

“He influenced my life in ways I could never repay,” Woodson said of Knight. 

Steve Alford

Alford starred under Knight from 1983 to 1987 and was the leading scorer for a national championship team his senior year. He is now on his fifth Division I coaching job at Nevada and is among the top 50 all-time wins leaders in college basketball.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas starred for Knight from 1979-81. He worked as coach in the NBA (Pacers and Knicks) and in college (FIU).

Michael Lewis

Lewis played for Knight from 1996-2000 and worked under him as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech before rising through the ranks to become the coach at Ball State in 2022. He guided the Cardinals to a 20-12 mark in his first season.

Keith Smart

Smart played two seasons at Indiana and started for the Hoosiers’ 1987 title team. He spent over two decades as a professional assistant and is now on staff at Arkansas.

Jim Crews

Crews played for Knight’s undefeated 1976 championship team at Indiana and subsequently spent several years as an assistant at IU before coaching at Evansville, Army and Saint Louis.

Pat Knight

Knight’s son played for his dad from 1991-95, worked for him at Indiana and Texas Tech and later served as the coach of Texas Tech and Lamar.

Randy Wittman

Wittman played for Knight at IU from 1978-83 and spent the next 30-plus years as an NBA player and coach.

Student managers

Dusty May

May worked as a student manager under Knight from 1996-2000 during the tail end of his tenure. He went on to work for fellow Knight pupil Mike Davis at UAB and eventually landed the FAU job in 2018. He entered the national spotlight last season by guiding the Owls to the Final Four.

“Bob Knight was truly a legend in every sense of the word,” May wrote on Twitter. “The impact that he had on me and so many others simply can’t be measured.”

Lawrence Frank

Frank worked as a manager for Knight at IU from 1988-92 before embarking on a long college and professional coaching career that included coaching stints with the Nets and Pistons. He is now president of basketball operations for the Clippers.

Joe Pasternack

Pasternack is yet another student manager from Knight’s later years at Indiana who went on to become a head coach. He is entering Year 7 at UC Santa Barbara and has guided the Gauchos to two of the past three NCAA Tournaments.

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