DU Hires Former Stanford Assistant Jeff Wulbrun as Next Men’s Hoops Head Coach

The University of Denver has hired veteran assistant coach Jeff Wulbrun from Stanford to guide the Denver Pioneer basketball program. We will have more on this breaking news after we attend Wulbrun’s press conference this afternoon at 2:00 pm MT. Our initial reaction to the hire is extremely positive as Wulbrun appears to have a breadth of experience and may provide a much-needed steady hand to a program in flux.

We will post a full analysis of the hire later today but we have included Stanford’s profile below on Wulbrun:

Jeff Wulbrun, who owns nearly three decades of experience as a basketball coach, is in his fifth season at Stanford. After serving the first two years as an assistant coach, Wulbrun was elevated to the James C. Gaither Associate Head Coach of Men’s Basketball prior to the 2018-19 season. 
 
Working directly with the Cardinal forwards and centers, post play has been one of Wulbrun’s specialties for over 30 years. He has developed a plethora of All-Pac-12 performers at Stanford, including Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey, who formed one of the top tandems in the conference, Josh Sharma, who excelled at his highest level during his senior season, and Oscar da Silva, who has emerged as a player who can work both the low and high post and take his opponents off the dribble. All four players feature heavily in the Cardinal record books.

Wulbrun also oversees Stanford’s scheduling, where he has secured home games against some of the top programs in the nation, with both North Carolina (2017) and Kansas (2019), among others, visiting Maples Pavilion. A force in recruiting, Wulbrun has helped Stanford land back-to-back-to-back top-tier recruiting classes, including top-10 classes in 2017 and 2020.

Stanford finished 20-12 overall in 2019-20, and remained solidly in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth throughout a season shortened by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Boasting the nation’s No. 16-ranked scoring defense (KenPom No. 7), the Cardinal also shot its highest field goal percentage (.469) since 2003-04 and was led by junior Oscar da Silva (All-Pac-12 first team, 15.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Tyrell Terry (All-Pac-12 honorable mention, 14.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg), who emerged as one of the nation’s top freshmen.

The 2018-19 team won 15 games, and was led by NBA Draft choice KZ Okpala, who went to the Miami Heat. He joined over 30 players under Wulbrun that have gone on to professional careers, including NBA All-Stars Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. He also served as an assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning United States at the Maccabi Games in 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.
 
In Wulbrun’s second season, Stanford won 19 games overall and returned to the postseason for the first time in three years. Stanford finished third in the Pac-12 standings and won 11 conference games in 2017-18, its best finish and most conference wins in 10 years. The ’17-18 team posted its highest scoring average (75.9 ppg) in 16 seasons, and led the conference in rebounding (39.1 rpg).
 
Wulbrun has been a member of Haase’s staff each of the last eight seasons at both Stanford and UAB. Wulbrun’s relationship with Haase dates back nearly three decades when he first recruited and signed Haase as a member of the California coaching staff.
 
Over a successful coaching career that spans 30 years (20 years in college and 10 in high school), Wulbrun has helped guide three different collegiate programs – California, Illinois State and UAB – to the NCAA Tournament.
 
At each stop, Wulbrun has played a key role in bringing in highly-regarded recruiting classes, highlighted by top-10 classes at Stanford in 2017 and 2020, a top-30 class with the Cardinal in 2018 and a top-five class at California that included Haase and Jason Kidd. At UAB, Wulbrun was responsible for landing the top recruiting class in Conference USA. Known for identifying and recruiting international talent, Wulbrun has helped bring in top prospects from Australia, Germany and Lithuania to Stanford.
 
At UAB, Wulbrun was part of a coaching staff that guided the Blazers to 80 wins in the four-year span, including the 2016 Conference USA regular-season championship and the 2015 conference tournament title. In 2015, UAB earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011 and captured the Blazers’ first win in the NCAAs since 2005. The Blazers’ 26 wins in 2015-16 were a school record. He recruited and helped develop UAB all-conference selections Chris Cokley and William Lee during his time with the Blazers. Lee finished his career as UAB’s all-time leader in blocked shots (291) and Cokley completed his career third in UAB history in career scoring with 1,660 points.
 
Before reuniting with Haase at UAB, Wulbrun served on the staff at Virginia Tech (2011-12), Illinois State (1993-97) and California (1986-93).
 
A Cypress, California, native, Wulbrun was an assistant coach at California under Lou Campanelli for seven seasons, helping lead the Golden Bears to five postseason appearances. During his time in Berkeley, Wulbrun helped sign Haase out of South Lake Tahoe High School, along with Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray. Wulbrun also coached three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, who served eight years as the Mayor of Sacramento.
 
Wulbrun helped lead Illinois State to three postseason appearances, including the 1997 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament title and berth in the NCAA Tournament in his four seasons with the Redbirds. He was also was active in real estate sales and development in Illinois. He was appointed the Chief Operating Officer of Distinctive Designs, a residential construction company, in 1998.
 
During his seven successful years in the business world, Wulbrun also served as the head coach of Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, Illinois. He developed Central Catholic into one of the top high school programs in Illinois.
 
Wulbrun jumped back into collegiate coaching full time in 2011, working with Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech for one season. He then reunited with Haase on his staff at UAB, when Haase was named the head coach of the Blazers in 2012.
 
Wulbrun holds a bachelor of arts in communications from Cal State Fullerton (1984). He and his wife, Jennie, are the proud parents of daughter, Kendall, and son, Jared. Kendall attended TCU, and is now the assistant director of admissions at Santa Clara University, and Jared attends Purdue University, where he is a member of the men’s basketball team. Jennie works as a programs & events manager for the Positive Coaching Alliance.

12 thoughts on “DU Hires Former Stanford Assistant Jeff Wulbrun as Next Men’s Hoops Head Coach”

  1. Maybe he has some West Coast recruiting connections? That could help. I can see a California kid wanting to go to school in Denver.

  2. The introductory press conference is zoom password protected – gee DU don’t let alumni and fans hear your new coach and build excitement for the new program – that would be awful!

    1. I noticed that too and thought it was poor form, like they’re too insecure about their basketball program or something.

      I can certainly understand the need to moderate and filter it, but why not try to include your constituency?

    1. I mean it’s the most DU thing ever – have this big news and then be kind of meek and secretive about it. To me the university as a whole is Kansas City Chiefs weapons with a New York Jets mentality.

  3. Got to listen to Jeff Wulbrun and Swami will recap the main points from the zoom call. Look for an opportunistic offense with ball movement and man-to-man defense on the floor. My guess is he is going to work the portal for players to fill gaps short term and he has had great success with international players in the past so that may be a future opportunity to get more talent on the floor. “Realistic” but “optimistic” about future success but didn’t give specifics on wins…

    Chris Smith said the zoom will be posted on denverpioneers.com.

  4. Based on DU’s limitations like reputation and salary, I’d call this an 8 but we need to give the man time. Swami said it best when he called the current operation a ‘dumpster fire’.

  5. I’m with 5B West. I was expecting a 5 or 6 out-of-10 hire by hiring a local DII coach. That was the easy way out for DU, and I am glad they didn’t go that route. I think D-I athletes are skeptical of D-II coaches and rightly so.

    Had DU been able to pull in a winning D-I head coach, that would be a 9-10 for me. But bringing a 30 year assistant with high level pedigree for what DU is paying is well beyond my expectations – eight is just about right.

  6. And remember two of the best Summit League coaches, Mills and Richman at ORU and NDSU respectively, had no college head coach experience – only high school and college assistant roles.

  7. Coach should have Minnesota connections 40 D1 players a year one D1 program with another one coming

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