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Former Jayhawks Jeff Boschee, Brett Ballard doing big things as head coaches at MIAA level

Former KU guard Jeff Boschee recently was named 2018 MIAA Coach of the Year after leading Missouri Southern State to a second-place finish. (Photo courtesy of mssulions.com)

Former KU guard Jeff Boschee recently was named 2018 MIAA Coach of the Year after leading Missouri Southern State to a second-place finish. (Photo courtesy of mssulions.com) by Matt Tait

Whenever people think about former Kansas assistant coaches who have moved on to become head coaches, they generally look at coaches at the Division I level.

Joe Dooley at Florida Gulf Coast. Danny Manning at Wake Forest. Tim Jankovich at SMU. Barry Hinson at Southern Illinois.

And those are just the Bill Self guys.

KU fans certainly still pull for Roy Williams disciples like Jerod Haase at Stanford and even C.B. McGrath at UNC Wilmington.

All of those guys, and others, have had their share of successes since starting out on their own and putting down the foundations of their programs.

But there are a couple of awfully talented head coaches a level down that also are tearing it up and making quite a name for themselves.

One is former Williams player and Self director of operations Brett Ballard, who, in his first year leading the Washburn Ichabods in Topeka, guided his squad to a third-place finish in the MIAA with a 21-8 overall record and a 14-5 conference record, two games behind defending Div. II national champion Northwest Missouri.

Ballard's squad, seeded third, won its quarterfinal conference tournament game on Friday in Kansas City, Mo., and will play again at 6 p.m. on Saturday against No. 7 seed Fort Hays State, which pulled off an upset in its quarterfinal game.

The victim? Second-seeded Missouri Southern State, which is led by former Jayhawk Jeff Boschee, who, just a couple of days earlier, was named the MIAA Coach of the Year.

Boschee led Lions to a 20-win season for the second time in his four-year career with the program. Missouri Southern State was picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll and the Lions finished the season second overall and had two wins against Northwest Missouri. The Lions also snapped the Bearcats' 49-game home winning streak in the process and over the past two seasons, Boschee's squad has delivered three of Northwest's four losses.

Boschee coached the Lions to a No. 6 ranking in the NCAA Division II Central Region poll and the Lions made their 20th-straight appearance in the MIAA Tournament.

Those two guys and all of the others mentioned above certainly have used their Kansas roots to aid their coaching careers. And Self said watching them all have great success has been incredibly rewarding.

"Barry finished second in the (Missouri) Valley," Self began. "Joe is in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun and they're hosting, so he's got a great chance. Jank's had the worst luck of anybody in the country. There's not a team more beat up than what SMU has been this year he's had. And Danny is going to have to obviously play well in the ACC Tournament, but they're so young. ... Basketball is such a fine line because one guy makes such a big difference. But our guys have done fine."

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