Kurtis Townsend joined the Kansas staff in summer 2004 and at 18 seasons, he is the longest tenured assistant coach in Kansas men’s basketball history. Since his arrival in Lawrence, Townsend has been a part of the KU program which has won two national championships, reached three NCAA Tournament title games, four Final Fours, eight NCAA Tournament Elite Eights and 10 NCAA Sweet 16s. KU has won an NCAA record 14-consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles (2005-18), 16 overall, and nine conference tournament crowns with Townsend on the sidelines. Also while at Kansas, Townsend has coached 12 NBA Draft Lottery selections, 27 overall NBA draftees and 59 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, Josh Selby and 2010 Consensus All-America First Team selection 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 18 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, Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Devonte’ Graham, Marcus Garrett, Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. 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. Kaliyah is a junior at KU.