Wooldridge announces hiring of Ben Kelso
Kansas State head men's basketball coach Jim Wooldridge announced on Friday the hiring of Ben Kelso as the team's new assistant coach.
"I'm excited about adding a quality coach and person in Ben Kelso to the coaching staff," said Wooldridge. "He is one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in the state of Michigan, if not in the country. Ben also gives us additional recruiting inroads into one of the most fertile regions in the country for producing high quality basketball talent. I look forward to him helping us build even greater success at Kansas State in the coming year."
Kelso, 58, comes to Kansas State as one of the most accomplished high school basketball coaches in the Midwest. The 1990 National High School Basketball Coach of the Year, he has won nearly 80 percent of his games during his 20-year coaching tenure with over 400 victories and an average of 20 wins per season. The only coach in Detroit Public School history to win three consecutive state championships, Kelso was voted the state of Michigan's "1980's Coach of the Decade by the Detroit News and Free Press. He also has been named the Detroit News' Coach of the Year six times as well as Michigan High School Coach of the Year on two occasions. In 1990, Kelso was featured in Sports Illustrated as one of the top high school coaches in the United States.
Kelso spent the past season as the head boys' basketball coach at Central High School in Detroit, Mich., where he coached incoming Wildcat freshman Deilvez Yearby. With just one upperclassman in the starting lineup, he guided the Trailblazers to a 17-5 overall record and the Class A district title. The Blazers won nine straight games before losing to Redford in the Region 4 Championship.
"I looking forward to working with Coach Wooldridge and the rest of the coaching staff at Kansas State," said Kelso. "I feel that this program is on the verge of doing some great things in the coming year and I am excited about being part of that success."
Kelso earned much of his success during his 14-year stint (1984-98) as the athletic director and head boys' basketball coach at Cooley High School in Detroit, Mich. He guided the Cardinals to three consecutive Class A state championships from 1987 to 1989. In all, Kelso led Cooley to 12 district and six regional championships during his tenure to go along with one Public School League (PSL) title. Under his leadership, Cooley was twice voted the "Athletic School of the Year." In addition, Kelso was voted Cooley High School's "Teacher of the Year."
Kelso moved to Southfield High School in Southfield, Mich., in 1998 as assistant athletic director as well as boys' and girls' basketball coach. He led each squad to consecutive Oakland Athletic Association titles in a four-year span en route to earning Coach of the Year honors in both 1999 and 2002. In addition, he was selected as the Oakland Press Dream Team Coach of the Year in 2002.
In 2001, Kelso was promoted to the school's athletic director post. During his tenure, he made significant strides in the areas of fiscal responsibility, fundraising and gender equity. Kelso turned around a debt-ridden budget and spearheaded a fundraising program to improve facilities, including a new football field and a renovation gymnasium. In addition, he single-handedly bought the school into compliance with Title IX regulations, starting two girls programs (golf and cross country) as well as intramural programs.
Prior to coaching in the high school ranks, Kelso spent four years as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan (1976-80) for head coaches Ray Scott and Jim Boyce. He helped coach six all-conference selections during his four-year stint, including a pair of second team honorees.
Kelso was a three-year standout guard at Central Michigan from 1970-73, where he still ranks among the top 10 in six offensive categories. He ranks first in career scoring average (22.3) and season scoring average (25.4; 1971-72), while he places third (661; 1971-72) and fifth (620; 1973-73) in season points and fourth in career points (1,627).
The school's leading scorer in both 1972 and 1973, Kelso averaged 23.8 points per game as a senior en route to becoming the first Chippewa to earn first team all-conference honors. He scored 30 or more points on 12 occasions during his career, including a 49-point outburst against Marshall as a senior that still ranks third-best in school history. Kelso was inducted into CMU's athletic Hall of Fame in 1986, while his No. 30 is one of seven retired jerseys at the school.
Kelso earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a concentration in physical education and recreation from Central Michigan in 1973. He earned his master's degree in athletic administration from Wayne State in 1998.
Kelso was twice drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the eighth round out of Central Michigan, first as the 118th selection in 1972 and lastly as the 129th pick in 1973. He went on to play one season with the Pistons, seeing action in 46 games during the 1973-74 season. Kelso was also drafted in the 10th round by the Utah Stars of the ABA in 1973.
A native of Flint, Mich., Kelso and his wife, Joyce, have four children; Benjamin, Jr. (32), Bradley (30), Jennifer (21) and Jayden (6).
Kelso will begin his duties on July 15.