Greatest High School Basketball Coaches of All Time
You don't become a great coach in any sport without consistency.
Nowhere in sports is consistency more valued than on the high school level, where a coach can lead fathers and then their sons at the same school. When you end up doing that, it means you've had a lot of success.
High school basketball has had its share of success stories. These coaches are the biggest legends with the most wins in high school basketball history.
30. Chuck White
W-L record: 921-228
Win percentage: 80.1%
Schools: Eisenhower (Washington) High School, Anchorage East (Alaska) High School, Anchorage West (Alaska) High School
State championships: 18 (1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983-85, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010)
Bottom line: Few sporting figures in Alaska history have loomed as large as Chuck White, a star athlete for the University of Idaho who was drafted to play in the NBA, NFL and MLB.
White won a staggering 18 state championships during his coaching career and put high school basketball in Alaska on the national radar, most notably when his 1993 team at East High entered the national rankings thanks to future Duke star and NBA player Trajan Langdon.
White, who only had one losing season in 45 years as a coach, died in 2019 at 78 years old.
Note: Only boys basketball coaches were included in these rankings. The source for wins is theNational Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). All win totals are current through Dec. 10, 2021.
29. Richard Warren
W-L record: 922-420
Win percentage: 68.7%
Schools: Sullivan (Tennessee) High School, Sullivan Central (Tenn.) HIgh School
State championships: None
Bottom line: Richard "Dickie" Warren spent his entire career in Sullivan, Tennessee — first as the head coach at Sullivan High, then at Sullivan Central.
Warren, a football and basketball star at East Tennessee State, won 15 coach of the year awards during his time at Sullivan but never was able to win a state championship as a coach.
Warren did have a state championship as a player, famously scoring the tying run in a legendary baseball state championship game as a senior at Dobyns-Bennett High in 1952.
28. Eric Staples
W-L record: 924-198
Win percentage: 82.4%
Schools: Perry (Georgia) High School
State championships: 8 (1947, 1949, 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964)
Bottom line: Eric Staples still makes the list despite not coaching a game in almost 60 years — the longest amount of time of any coach among the list of wins leaders.
Staples was known for his understated coaching style. His offense was a series of simple pick and rolls, and he rarely, if ever, paced the sidelines during games, instead choosing to stay seated and instruct his team.
One of Staples' former players, Billy Powell, actually wrote a book called "Pride of the Panthers" about the team's accomplishments and Staples' coaching genius over 30 years.
Staples died in 1984.
27. Kenny Almond
W-L record: 932-435
Win percentage: 68.2%
Schools: Robert E. Lee (Louisiana) HIgh School, Baton Rouge (La.) Central High School, Woodlawn (La.) High School, Gonzales East Ascension (La.) High School, Holden (La.) HIgh School
State championships: 3 (1999, 2002, 2003)
Bottom line: Kenny Almond won three state championships at Woodlawn High and also finished as state runner-up four times in his career — three at Woodlawn and once at Lee High in 1982.
Almond's greatest team was probably his 2003 squad, which finished ranked No. 2 in the nation behind St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) High and star player LeBron James.
Almond was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
26. Robert Brink
W-L record: 936-327
Win percentage: 74.1%
Schools: Plankinton (South Dakota) State Training School, Tyndall (S.D.) High School, Cold Spring (Minnesota) Rocori High School
State championships: 1 (1988)
Bottom line: Robert Brink began his coaching career in his native South Dakota and became the coach at Rocori High in Cold Spring, Minnesota, the year the school opened in 1969 and stayed there for 43 years.
Brink, who won his lone state championship in 1988, put his teams in the state tournament 13 times and finished as state runner-up in 1999.
Brink died in October 2021, at 84 years old.
25. Warren Rutledge
W-L record: 949-334
Win percentage: 74%
Schools: Richmond Benedictine (Va.) College Prep
State championships: 25 (1959, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1994, 1999, 2000)
Bottom line: Warren Rutledge was a star baseball player at William & Mary College and rose as high as the New York Yankees' Triple-A squad before he began his high school coaching career at Benedictine High.
Rutledge won over 20 Catholic school state championships, including 16 consecutive from 1970 to 1985 and had a 95-game winning streak from 1970 to 1975.
24. Ed Pepple
W-L record: 952-306
Win percentage: 75.7%
Schools: Fife (Wa.) High School, Longview Mark Morris (Wa.) High School, Mercer Island (Wa.) High School
State championships: 4 (1985, 1993, 1997, 1999)
Bottom line: Ed Pepple is the only coach to make the list who spent his whole career in Washington. The last 42 years of it were at Mercer Island High, where he won four state championships.
Pepple was denied another state championship in 1981, when a basket after the buzzer by Spokane Shadle Park was counted as good in what is considered the most controversial ending to a state championship game in state history, regardless of sport.
Pepple's most famous pupil was two-time Washington Player of the Year Quin Snyder, who led Mercer Island to Pepple's first state championship in 1985, went on to star at Duke and is currently the head coach of the Utah Jazz.
Pepple died in September 2020, at 88 years old.
23. Bud Lathrop
W-L record: 955-310
Win percentage: 75.5%
Schools: Mound City (Missouri) High School, Raytown South (Mo.) High School
State championships: 4 (1970, 1972, 1977, 1990)
Bottom line: If you know high school basketball in the Midwest, you know the name Bud Lathrop.
Lathrop, a basketball star at William Jewell College in the 1950s, was most known for this time as the coach at Raytown South High in his hometown, where he won four state championships. Lathrop ran into hot water several times for his practice tactics. He was suspended in 2003 for using a paddle to swat players' butts for missing free throws and in 2004 for using foul language at practice.
Lathrop, who is in the Missouri Hall of Fame, died in 2018 at 82 years old.
22. Jack Curran
W-L record: 972-437
Win percentage: 68.9%
Schools: Queens Archbishop Molloy (New York) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: Jack Curran was one of the most successful high school coaches in the country in two sports — basketball and baseball — during his 50-plus year career at Archbishop Molloy High.
Curran won CHSAA Coach of the Year 47 times in his career over the two sports and kept a steady stream of players from Archbishop Molloy to the NBA over that time, including point guards Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson.
Curran died in 2013, at 82 years old.
21. Robert High
W-L record: 974-296
Win percentage: 76.7%
Schools: Chattanooga Brainerd (Tenn.) High School
State championships: 3 (1984, 1988, 1992)
Bottom line: Robert High spent his entire career as a head coach at Chattanooga's Brainerd High, where he won three state championships and finished as state runner-up two more times.
Unlike a lot of coaches on this list, High was denied a graceful exit when he was told by Brainerd principal Uras Agee he would not be retained as coach in 2013 despite his desire to return for one more season.
20. Jerry Peters
W-L record: 1,001-429
Win percentage: 70.0%
Schools: Memphis (Tenn.) University School
State championships: 1 (2007)
Bottom line: Jerry Peters graduated from Rhodes College in 1960 and took a job as an educator and assistant basketball coach at Memphis University School that fall before becoming the head coach in 1964. He would remain in that position for the next 48 years.
Peters is credited with doing as much for high school basketball in Memphis as any coach in its history and won his lone state championship in 2007.
Peters was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2008. He died in 2018, at 79 years old.
19. Robert Capello
W-L record: 1,004-475
Win percentage: 67.3%
Schools: Barber Hills (Texas) High School, Donna (Texas) High School, Lyford (Texas) High School, Uvalde (Texas) High School, Edcouch-Elsa (Texas) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: Robert Capello was born into a small farming community in Texas and, despite being just 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, became a star quarterback and defensive back at Edcouch-Elsa High, then at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Capello spent the last 25 years of his coaching career at his alma mater, where he became known for a distinctive brand of basketball that demanded intense man-to-man defense and outside shooting. His 1990-91 team set a national record when it attempted 1,078 3-pointers, making 348 of them.
18. Robert McDonald
W-L record: 1,012-428
Win percentage: 70.3%
Schools: McGregor (Minn.) High School, Barnum (Minn.) High School, Chisholm (Minn.) High School
State championships: 3 (1973, 1975, 1991)
Bottom line: The next time you feel like you might be ready to lose your temper over something, please keep legendary high school boys basketball coach Robert McDonald in mind.
We ask you to do that because McDonald, who coached 59 years, never received a technical foul in over 1,400 games as a head coach.
McDonald, who died in 2020 at 87 years old, had six children who were all-state selections, and they all went into coaching.
17. Billy Hicks
W-L record: 1,013-277
Win percentage: 78.5%
Schools: Evarts (Kentucky) High School, Harlan (Ky.) High School, Corbin (Ky.) High School, Georgetown Scott County (Ky.) High School
State championships: 2 (1998, 2007)
Bottom line: Billy Hicks graduated from Evarts High, played college basketball at Wofford, then returned home to coach Evarts after graduation.
Hicks became best known for his time at Scott County High in Georgetown, Kentucky, where he won two state championships and lost in the state championship game five times over 25 seasons.
Hicks, who retired in 2019 after losing in the state championship game, was named the Louisville Courier-Journal Coach of the Year three times and in three different decades.
16. John Guice
W-L record: 1,018-504
Win percentage: 66.9%
Schools: Midway Henrietta (Texas) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: You won't find many educators and coaches like John Guice. He spent his entire 44-year career as a coach, principal and superintendent in the Clay County School District.
Guice graduated from Howard Payne University and went directly to work for Midway High, where he won 1,392 wins in boys and girls basketball combined, with 1,018 of those wins coming on the boys side, where he finished as state runner-up twice.
Guice was named the Class A Coach of the Year in 1982 and was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.
15. Ronald Bradley
W-L record: 1,019-322
Win percentage: 90.0%
Schools: Newton County (Ga.) High School, Monroe George Walton (Ga.) High School, Dublin Trinity Christian (Ga.) High School, Loganville (Ga.) High School, Monticello Piedmont (Ga.) High School, Port St. Joe (Ga.) High School, Greater Atlanta Christian High School, Conyers Heritage (Ga.) High School
State championships: 3 (1964, 1976, 1985)
Bottom line: Ronald Bradley's career wins total gets over the 1,300 mark when you count his time as a girls basketball coach as well. As a boys coach, he spent his entire career in Georgia.
While some coaches may have to rely on various sources of information to put together their career accomplishments, Bradley's four children did something pretty cool for his Christmas present in 2011 when they created the CoachRonaldBradley.com website.
It is a complete index of all his amazing accomplishments over the decades.
14. Walter Van Huss
W-L record: 1,021-313
Win percentage: 76.5%
Schools: Hampton (Tenn.) High School, Dobyns-Bennett (Tenn.) High School
State championships: 1 (1960)
Bottom line: Walter "Buck" Van Huss was a legendary high school basketball coach who spent his entire career in Tennessee — first at Hampton High, then at Dobyns-Bennett High.
Van Huss was the East coach for the 1989 McDonald's All-American Game that featured Shaquille O'Neal, Bobby Hurley, Allan Houston and Jim Jackson.
Van Huss died in July 1990 at 72 years old and just six victories away from becoming the nation's all-time wins leader.
13. Leslie Gaudet
W-L record: 1,026-353
Win percentage: 74.4%
Years: 1937-43, 1946-70
Schools: Pine Prairie (La.) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: Pine Prairie High's Leslie Gaudet's career looks even more incredible in a modern light. He coached his last game in 1970, when he retired with the most wins of any coach in history.
Gaudet liked to joke that he only had two jobs his entire life, at Pine Prairie and when he took a three-year break to go fight in World War II. "It was my first and my only job, except for my time with Uncle Sam," he said.
Coaching in an era before limits on games, Gaudet's team went 63-8 in 1938-39 and 62-6 in 1952-53. He was inducted into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, National Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Gaudet died in 1998, at 82 years old.
12. Gene Pingatore
W-L record: 1,035-384
Win percentage: 72.9%
Schools: St. Joseph (Illinois) High School
State championships: 2 (1999, 2015)
Bottom line: Gene Pingatore was the head coach at St. Joseph's High in the Chicago suburbs for 50 years, where he became famous for coaching future Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and for being featured in the classic documentary "Hoop Dreams" in 1994.
Pingatore, who died in 2019 at 82 years old, won two state championships in 1999 and 2015.
11. Danny Broussard
W-L record: 1,053-335
Win percentage: 75.9%
Schools: Lafayette St. Thomas More (La.) HIgh School
State championships: 5 (1986, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Bottom line: Danny Broussard is one of several coaches on this list who could take over the No. 1 spot one day. Not that he wants it.
"All those wins just mean I'm old as dirt," Broussard once joked.
Broussard took over at St. Thomas More High in 1983 for his brother, Ricky, who took a job as a college assistant, and has never left. Danny won his first state championship in 1986, then went through a 27-year drought before winning his next state title in 2013 and winning three consecutive championships from 2018 to 2020.
10. Morgan Gilbert
W-L record: 1,055-580
Win percentage: 64.5%
Schools: Tyronza (Arkansas) High School, Bay (Ark.) High School, Tuckerman (Ark.) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: Morgan Gilbert did something no one in the history of high school sports had ever done in 2012. He won his 1,000th career game in two different sports, football and baseball.
Gilbert, a Tuckerman, Arkansas, native, came close to winning a basketball state championship in 1992, when his squad was the Class A state runner-up. That was followed a few months later by winning the Class A state championship in baseball.
Gilbert was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2014.
9. Joel Hawkins
W-L record: 1,071-263
Win percentage: 80.3%
Schools: Lake Providence (La.) High School, Baton Rouge Southern Lab (La.) High School
State championships: 12 (1985, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005)
Bottom line: Joel Hawkins won his first state championship at Lake Providence High in 1985, which was 19 years into his coaching career. He then reeled off an incredible 11 state championships in a 13-year stretch at Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge.
Hawkins' most well-known player was an all-state pick who went on to excel in another sport — forward Marcus Spears had an All-American career and won a national championship in football at LSU before becoming a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft.
Hawkins, who died in 2016 at 77 years old, was a member of the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and was honored as the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Mr. Basketball in 2005.
8. Tony Harper
W-L record: 1,077-473
Win percentage: 69.5%
Schools: Burges (Texas) High School, Montwood (Texas) High School, El Paso Cathedral (Texas) High School
State championships: None
Bottom line: One of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Tony Harper was named the 2012 UIL Coach of the Year and the 2013 NHSCA National Coach of the Year.
Harper, an Austin native, began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Burges High immediately following his graduation from UTEP in 1968 and has been a head coach since 1971.
Harper was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
7. Charles Smith
W-L record: 1,087-183
Win percentage: 85.6%
Schools: Alexandria Peabody (La.) High School
State championships: 7 (1991, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017)
Bottom line: Charles Smith was a college baseball star — good enough that he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds out of Paul Quinn College before he returned home to begin his career as an educator and coach.
Smith spent a decade as an assistant coach at Peabody High before he was promoted to the top spot and has won seven state championships, including a pair of 41-0 seasons that finished with Peabody ranked in the top five in the nation in 2004 and 2010.
Smith was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 and the National Association of High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2021.
6. Bill Krueger
W-L record: 1,096-250
Win percentage: 79.4%
Schools: Cameron Yoe (Tex.) High School, San Marcos (Tex.) High School, League City Clear Creek (Tex.) High School, Houston Clear Lake High School
State championships: 2 (1965, 1989)
Bottom line: The stat that jumps off the page about Bill Krueger's 39-year coaching career is that in that whole time he never had a losing season — despite spending his career at four different schools and all in Texas.
Krueger, who was honored with the Morgan Wooten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, was part of one of the most remarkable assemblies of high school coaches in history.
In 1995, Krueger and Clear Lake High participated in the Legends of High School Basketball Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, with three other teams and all with coaches who had over 1,000 wins — Krueger, Hobbs (New Mexico) High's Ralph Tasker, Dematha (Maryland) Catholic's Wooten and Fort Worth Dunbar's Robert Hughes.
5. Ralph Tasker
W-L record: 1,122-291
Win percentage: 79.4%
Schools: Sulphur Springs (Ohio) High School, Lovington (New Mexico) High School, Hobbs (N.M.) High School
State championships: 12 (1949, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1988)
Bottom line: Ralph Tasker crafted a basketball legacy in New Mexico, winning one state championship at Lovington High, then 11 more titles at Hobbs High, where the gym is named Ralph Tasker Arena in his honor.
Tasker's teams set two national records on offense during his time at Hobbs High, including 114.6 points per game during the 1968-69 season and scoring over 100 points in 14 consecutive games.
Tasker, who was named National Coach of the Year in 1969, died in 1999 at 80 years old.
4. Bob Hurley
W-L record: 1,185-124
Win percentage: 90.7%
Schools: St. Anthony (New Jersey) High School
State championships: 26 (1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2016)
Bottom line: In 43 years as St. Anthony High's basketball coach, Bob Hurley produced over 150 Division I players and won four national championships.
Perhaps Hurley's greatest team was his 1989 national championship team which featured three future NBA draft first-round picks in Rodrick Rhodes, Terry Dehere and Hurley's son, Bobby, who went on to win back-to-back national championships at Duke.
Both of Hurley's sons, Bobby (Arizona State) and Danny Hurley (Connecticut) are Division I head coaches.
3. Gary McKnight
W-L record: 1,188-121
Win percentage: 90.8%
Schools: Mater Dei (California) High School
State championships: 11 (1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Bottom line: Gary McKnight has been the head coach at powerhouse Mater Dei since 1983 and is the all-time wins leader for California high school basketball coaches.
McKnight has won 11 state championships, and his last state title also came with his lone national championship in 2014.
McKnight has coached nine future NBA players during his time in Santa Ana.
2. Morgan Wooten
W-L record: 1,274-192
Win percentage: 86.9%
Schools: DeMatha (Md.) High School
State championships: 22 (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2002)
Bottom line: The most well-known high school basketball coach of all time was DeMatha High's Morgan Wooten, who won five national championships in 45 years.
Wooten, who also coached DeMatha's football team until 1968, first made national headlines when his basketball team pulled off a stunning upset of New York's Power Memorial Academy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1961, ending their 71-game win streak.
Wooten coached until 2002. He died in January 2020, at 88 years old.
1. Robert Hughes
W-L record: 1,333-265
Win percentage: 83.4%
Schools: Fort Worth Terrell (Texas) High School, Fort Worth Dunbar (Texas) High School
State championships: 5 (1963, 1965, 1967, 1993, 2003)
Bottom line: Former Texas Southern star Robert Hughes was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1955 NBA draft but opted to play for the Harlem Magicians for several years before getting into high school coaching and becoming the all-time wins leader in the entire nation.
Hughes would coach for 46 years in Fort Worth, Texas, first at segregated Terrell High, then at Dunbar High, winning five state championships between the two schools.
At Dunbar, Hughes' teams made the state semifinals 12 times.