Harry Experience: Combes Collected More A-As Than Any Coach in 1st 20 Years
Only seven individuals have coached at least 14 All-Americans with one major college. Four years ago, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski broke a tie with Kentucky's Adolph Rupp and moved atop this list. This season, Coach K became the first with as many as 29 when guard Luke Kennard was honored.
In one of the most overlooked achievements in NCAA history new Champaign bench boss Brad Underwood should know about, Harry Combes amassed 16 different All-Americans in his first 19 of 20 seasons as Illinois' mentor from 1947-48 through 1966-67. No other coach has accumulated more than 13 All-Americans in his first 20 campaigns with a single school - North Carolina's Dean Smith (13 in first 20 seasons), Indiana's Bob Knight (12), Krzyzewski (12), Rupp (12), Indiana's Branch McCracken (11), Arizona's Lute Olson (11), UCLA's John Wooden (10) and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (eight). Recruiting the Chicago metropolitan area isn't a panacea for the struggling Illini, which should remember how 22 different major-college All-Americans in less than 30 years in an earlier era came from Illinois high schools located in towns featuring populations smaller than 20,000.
As a means of comparison, keep in mind inactive NCAA Division I national coaches of the year P.J. Carlesimo, Perry Clark, Tom Davis, Eddie Fogler, Jim Harrick, Marv Harshman, Clem Haskins, Maury John, Jim O'Brien, George Raveling, Charlie Spoonhour and Butch van Breda Kolff combined for 17 All-Americans in a cumulative 251 years coaching at the major-college level. Moreover, prominent active coaches Tommy Amaker, Mike Anderson, John Beilein, Randy Bennett, Brad Brownell, Mick Cronin, Ed DeChellis, Scott Drew, Fran Dunphy, Tim Floyd, Travis Ford, Frank Haith, Billy Kennedy, Jim Larranaga, Fran McCaffery, Bob McKillop, Dan Monson, Tubby Smith and Mark Turgeon have combined for fewer All-Americans than Combes. Indiana boasts two of the following seven coaches with the most different All-Americans at one university:
|Coach||All-Americans With Single Division I School||School Tenure With Most All-Americans|
|Mike Krzyzewski||29 All-Americans in first 37 seasons with Duke||1980-81 through 2016-17|
|Adolph Rupp||23 in 41 seasons with Kentucky||1930-31 through 1971-72 except for 1952-53|
|Dean Smith||22 in 36 seasons with North Carolina||1961-62 through 1996-97|
|John Wooden||18 in 27 seasons with UCLA||1948-49 through 1974-75|
|Bob Knight||17 in 29 seasons with Indiana||1971-72 through 1999-00|
|Harry Combes||16 in 20 seasons with Illinois||1947-48 through 1966-67|
|Branch McCracken||14 in 24 seasons with Indiana||1938-39 through 1942-43 and 1946-47 through 1964-65|
NOTE: Respected retired mentors Gale Catlett, Mike Deane, Bill Henderson, Shelby Metcalf, Stan Morrison, Bob Polk, Charlie Spoonhour and Ralph Willard never had an All-American despite at least 18 seasons coaching at the major-college level.