Kurtis Townsend | Assistant Coach
Kurtis Townsend joined the Kansas staff in summer 2004. Since his arrival in Lawrence, Townsend has been a part of the KU program which has won a national championship, reached two NCAA Tournament title games, three Final Fours, seven NCAA Tournament Elite Eights and nine NCAA Sweet 16s. KU has won an NCAA record 14-consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles and eight conference tournament crowns with Townsend on the sidelines. Also while at Kansas, Townsend has coached 10 NBA Draft Lottery selections, 22 overall NBA draftees and 51 All-Big 12 Jayhawks.
Recognized as a top assistant by many national organizations, Townsend played a major role in recruiting KU’s NBA draftees Josh Jackson, Andrew Wiggins, Ben McLemore, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Julian Wright and Josh Selby, as well as 2010 Consensus All-American Sherron Collins. He also was instrumental in bringing 2017 National Player of the Year, Frank Mason III, to KU as well as 2018 Consensus All-America First Team selection Devonte’ Graham.
Townsend joined the Jayhawk staff after serving as an assistant under Perry Clark at the University of Miami for one season. He also served as an assistant at Southern California, Michigan, California and Eastern Kentucky.
Prior to Miami, Townsend spent two seasons at USC helping guide the Trojans to two Pac-10 Tournament championship games. In 2001-02, his first season with the Trojans, USC finished 22-10, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and finishing the season ranked 18th in the nation by the Associated Press.
Before USC, Townsend spent three seasons at Michigan helping lead the Wolverines to the NIT in 2000. He was also an assistant at Eastern Kentucky in 1997-98 following four seasons at California (1993-97), where he helped coach the Golden Bears to three NCAA Tournament appearances (1994, 1996, 1997), including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1997.
Townsend has coached numerous NBA players including KU’s contingent from the last 14 seasons: Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Xavier Henry, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Josh Selby, Cole Aldrich, Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Tarik Black, Kelly Oubre Jr., Cliff Alexander, Cheick Diallo, Josh Jackson, Frank Mason III, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham. Additionally, he has mentored Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Tremaine Fowlkes, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ed Gray, Sean Marks, Michael Stewart, Jamal Crawford, Lou Bullock, Sam Clancy and Guillermo Diaz. While at Cal, he also coached former NFL player Tony Gonzalez.
Townsend began his coaching career at the high school level in his hometown of San Jose, California, having served as an assistant coach at Leland (1984-87) and Del Mar (1987-89). He then became head coach at Leigh (1989-91) where his teams won two league titles and later advanced to the state championship. From there, Townsend was head coach at Willow Glen High School (1991-93) where his team made it to the sectional finals two-straight years.
Townsend played point guard at Western Kentucky for two seasons (1978-80), helping the Hilltoppers to the 1980 Ohio Valley Conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid. He spent the 1981 season in the CBA for the Montana Golden Nuggets and earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation from Western Kentucky in 1982.
Prior to transferring to Western Kentucky, Townsend played two seasons at Menlo (California) Junior College where he earned first-team all-state and All-America honorable mention honors in 1978.
Townsend is married to the former Linda Woodson. He has five children: Tanika, Marques, Keisha, Kaliyah and Myka.
Norm Roberts | Assistant Coach
Norm Roberts enters his eighth season on the Kansas sidelines after rejoining Bill Self’s staff in June 2012. Roberts was on Self’s first KU staff in 2003-04 and returned prior to the 2012-13 season.
In his time at Kansas, the Jayhawks have won six Big 12 regular-season titles, three Big 12 Tournament championships and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 five times, the Elite Eight four times and the Final Four once, in 2018.
While on the KU sidelines, Roberts has coached five NBA Lottery selections in Josh Jackson, Andrew Wiggins, Ben McLemore, Joel Embiid and Kelly Oubre Jr. Additionally, Roberts has seen more than 20 Jayhawks go on to compete professionally, be it in the NBA, the G-League or overseas.
In Roberts’ stint at KU, 30 KU student-athletes have been named to All-Big 12 teams for an average 4.3 per season, including two Big 12 Players of the Year, two Big 12 Defensive Players of the Year, one Big 12 Freshman of the Year and one Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The two conference players of the year were 2017 Consensus National Player of the Year Frank Mason III and 2018 Consensus All-America First Team selection Devonte’ Graham.
Roberts returned to Kansas after serving the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach at the University of Florida, where the Gators advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Roberts is no stranger to Kansas or Self. He spent nine seasons on Self’s staffs at KU in 2003-04 as associate head coach; three years at Illinois (2000-03), including serving as associate head coach in 2002-03; three seasons at Tulsa (1997-2000) and two years at Oral Roberts (1995-97).
Prior to his year in Gainesville, Roberts spent six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s in New York, where the Queens, New York, native took over the Red Storm in 2004.
In his first season, the Red Storm showed that despite coming off several losing seasons they could compete at a high level with a pair of top-25 victories over No. 17 North Carolina State and No. 21 Pittsburgh while claiming the championship at the 2004 Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s also defeated long-time rival Georgetown that year.
Roberts’ second season, 2005-06, St. John’s improved its overall and conference record and claimed the Holiday Festival championship for a second-consecutive year. The team also scored its first top-10 win under Roberts, defeating No. 9 Pittsburgh, 55-50, on Jan. 21 just four days after another top-25 win against No. 17/15 Louisville, 68-56.
In 2008-09, St. John’s scored its biggest victory of Roberts’ tenure, knocking off No. 7 Notre Dame and added a pair of wins over Georgetown, including a first-round matchup in the Big East Tournament. In his final season with the program, Roberts led St. John’s past UConn in the Big East Tournament and earned a postseason berth in the NIT.
A 1987 graduate of Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, Roberts is the school’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,719 points. He also is the career leader in steals (253) and is second in assists (460), and had his number (15) retired by his alma mater in 1993.
Roberts’ first job out of college was under legendary high school coach Jack Curran at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where he spent three years as the head freshman coach and an assistant on the varsity squad. While at Archbishop Molloy, he had the opportunity to coach many noted New York players, highlighted by the 1991 No. 2 overall NBA draft pick Kenny Anderson.
He and his wife Pascale have two sons, Nicholas (Niko), who was a four-year letterwinner at Kansas from 2011-14 and graduated from KU in spring 2014, and Justin, a redshirt junior guard at Niagara. Niko works for the NCAA and is Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Championships.
Jerrance Howard | Assistant Coach
Jerrance Howard came to Kansas in May 2013. Two months later, Howard was ranked 12th among the top recruiting assistant coaches in NCAA Division I by ESPN.com in a survey of more than 200 head coaches.
In five seasons at KU, Howard has been part of Kansas’ five Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 Tournament titles, four in-season tourney titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances, including three Elite Eight runs and one Final Four in 2018. Additionally, Howard has seen 11 Jayhawks move on to the NBA, including Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, the No. 1 and No. 3 overall selections in the 2014 NBA Draft and Josh Jackson, the 2017 No. 4 pick.
In five seasons at Kansas, Howard has coached 22 All-Big 12 selections, including back-to-back Big 12 Players of the Year Frank Mason III, the 2017 consensus national player of the year, and 2018 All-America First Team honoree Devonte’ Graham.
In the summer of 2015, Howard was an assistant coach who helped guide the USA National Team, made up mainly of University of Kansas student-athletes and KU coaches and staff, to the gold medal at the World University Games in Gwangju, Korea, by posting an 8-0 record. The medal was USA’s first in three World University Games and the first gold, 14th overall, for the Americans since 2005.
Howard came to KU after one season in the same position on Larry Brown’s staff at SMU. Prior to SMU, Howard spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Illinois. He was also interim head coach for the Illini. While at UI he earned a reputation as one of the top young assistant coaches in the country and one of the nation’s best recruiters. Before Illinois, Howard spent three-plus seasons on Billy Gillispie’s staffs at Texas A&M and Kentucky.
A Peoria, Illinois, native, Howard was a four-year letterwinner for the Fighting Illini from 2001-04, including three seasons for Bill Self. During his career, Illinois compiled a record of 104-31 overall and was 48-16 in the Big Ten Conference. The Illini won three Big Ten Championships (2001, 2002, 2004), a Big Ten Tournament Title (2003) and appeared in the NCAA Tournament all four years, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2001 and the Sweet 16 in both 2002 and 2004.
Howard brings with him a strong playing career, over half of which was spent under Self. He played point guard for the Illini along with All-Americans Frank Williams, Dee Brown and Deron Williams. Howard developed a reputation as the program’s inspirational leader and was a team captain his junior and senior seasons. He also was a two-time winner of the Kenny Battle Award, an accolade voted upon by the players and coaches and given to an Illini who earns the respect of his teammates through hard work and effort in games and practice each day.
Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University of Illinois in 2004. He is married to the former Jessica Wordlaw, who also is an Illinois graduate. The Howards have a son, Jerrance Jr., and a daughter, Jaya Brooklyn-Rose.