Throwback Thursday: Brett Ballard

Sept. 29, 2011

092911aaa_65_6974579.jpegBrett Ballard (Men’s Basketball, 2001-02)

Hutchinson, Kan., native Brett Ballard is no stranger to Allen Fieldhouse. Having played for the Jayhawks from 2001-02 under coach Roy Williams, Ballard remained a part of the KU basketball program for the next eight years as a student assistant, administrative assistant/video coordinator and eventually director of basketball operations. Ballard is now the head coach of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., where he is about to embark on his second season at the helm. Ballard lives in Lawrence, with his wife, Kelly and their two sons.

Why did you choose to play basketball at Kansas?
“I grew up a big KU fan. For me to get a chance to play there was a dream come true. I didn’t necessarily know if I was going to play a lot, but to go and learn from Coach Williams was an opportunity that I did not want to pass up.

What was your favorite part about being on campus during your playing days at KU?
“The best part for me was the game days at the Fieldhouse. It was special to be a part of that atmosphere and I loved how the students would support the athletic programs. It was a fun two years to experience something like that.”

What memory stands out the most from your playing days in Lawrence? 092911aaa_65_6974537.jpeg
“One moment that comes to mind is going to the Final Four (in 2002). But another sweet moment for me was when we clinched the Big 12 title at home against Iowa State (that same year). We got to cut down the nets and hoist the Big 12 trophy in front of our home fans at Allen Fieldhouse. That was really cool for me and probably is my greatest memory I have while playing basketball at KU.”

You are now the head basketball coach at Baker University (in Baldwin City, Kan.), was there anyone that inspired you to get into the coaching profession?
“My dad was a coach so I was always around the game of basketball. I love the competition of athletics and for me becoming a coach was sort of a no-brainer. I really enjoy doing it and I am very fortunate to have my opportunity to coach.”

Before coming to Baker in 2010, you were a student assistant at KU as well as the video coordinator and eventually director of basketball operations. How was working for the basketball program different from playing it?
“I would say there is a lot more responsibility as a coach. I had responsibilities all day long and sometimes into the evening when I worked there. I had responsibilities as a player too but I think the biggest difference for me was the time commitment. As a player, I had class and practice. As a coach there are a lot more hidden things that take a lot of time to do. I would love to go back and be a player again.”

092911aaa_65_6974594.jpegWhat is your favorite part about being the head men’s basketball coach at Baker University?
“I would say the interaction with the guys on the team. It is fun to be the one in charge and making the decisions for the team. Above all else though, there is the competitive part of it, which being a part of that environment is fun for me.”

Do you still keep in touch with some of your teammates that you played with?
“Oh yeah, I text or talk to those guys quite a bit. Some of them are back in Lawrence now, so I have seen them around. I also keep track of those guys that are in the NBA right now. It is fun to see how successful they have become since I played with them at KU. I tried to keep in touch with all of them, either through social media or running into them every once in a while.”

You attended the Legends of the Phog game last weekend at the Fieldhouse, what was it like as a former player to see and be a part of the event?
“I thought it was an incredible weekend and it was exciting to see everybody back. To have all the legends back in Lawrence and to feel that family atmosphere was really neat to experience. I thought the fans were awesome. For an exhibition game to be that packed and to be that hyped up was awesome for the University. It shows how committed KU basketball fans are. The game could not have ended in a better fashion, but more than anything, having those guys back in Lawrence and on campus shows how much those players care about Kansas basketball. It makes me feel good as a former player and as a fan now.