The Most Influential Man in Basketball

Scott Morrow Johnson
Foreword by Judy Allen Morris

372 pages
26 photographs, index


November 2019


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eBook (EPUB)
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November 2016


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eBook (PDF)
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November 2016


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About the Book

Remembered in name but underappreciated in legacy, Forrest “Phog” Allen arguably influenced the game of basketball more than anyone else. 

In the first half of the twentieth century, Allen took basketball from a gentlemanly, indoor recreational pastime to the competitive game that would become a worldwide sport. Succeeding James Naismith as the University of Kansas’s basketball coach in 1907, Allen led the Jayhawks for thirty-nine seasons and holds the record for most wins at that school, with 590. He also helped create the NCAA tournament and brought basketball to the Olympics. Allen changed the way the game is played, coached, marketed, and presented.

Scott Morrow Johnson reveals Allen as a master recruiter, a transformative coach, and a visionary basketball mind. Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Wilt Chamberlain, and many others benefited from Allen’s knowledge of and passion for the game. But Johnson also delves into Allen’s occasionally tumultuous relationships with Naismith, the NCAA, and University of Kansas administrators.

Phog: The Most Influential Man in Basketball chronicles this complex man’s life, telling for the first time the full story of the man whose name is synonymous with Kansas basketball and with the game itself.

Author Bio

Scott Morrow Johnson is an award-winning sportswriter whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Sports Illustrated, the Washington PostUSA Today, and the Chicago Tribune.


"Phog is perfect for the general reader, and supplants Blair Kerkoff's 1996 biography of Allen as the best book about Phog Allen available."—Andrew McGregor, Sport in American History

“Phog Allen was a tireless worker who was ahead of his time. Coach Allen’s teachings of the game created the philosophies of today. He knew that education and the game of basketball together were going to be an avenue for the world we embrace today. Phog is certainly a great read, showing the impact he has had.”—Danny Manning, KU basketball legend and head coach at Wake Forest University

“You can’t tell the history of basketball without delving deeply into the influence of Phog Allen—and Scott Johnson does it artfully and thoroughly.”—Michael Silver, author of Golden Girl: How Natalie Coughlin Fought Back, Challenged Conventional Wisdom, and Became America’s Olympic Champion

“Scott Morrow Johnson's Phog captures the booming voice and nimble mind of the midwesterner who spread the gospel of basketball from the University of Kansas to the world.”—Steve Marantz, author of The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball at the ’68 Racial Divide

“Coach Allen was a visionary who changed the landscape of college basketball. His influence on collegiate athletics, including on my mentors, made an immeasurable impact on me both personally and professionally. His photo hangs on my office wall as a sign of my great respect and gratitude for the many contributions he made to the game that I love.”—Mark Turgeon, men’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland

Table of Contents

Prologue: From Naismith to Wilt
1. Running from Independence
2. The “World’s Championship”    
3. A Man Named Jim
4. The Hero Arrives
5. The Game Can Be Coached
6. Call Him Doc
7. A Teacher among Teachers
8. Once a Jayhawk
9. Ascent to New Heights
10. A Bitter Winter
11. The Day the Game Arrived
12. Stepping Out of the Shadow
13. A Greater Calling
14. The Fall of a Legend
15. Rising from the Ashes
16. Just Like Any Other Game Day
17. Searching for Gold
18. The Improbable Return
19. The King Gets His Castle
20. The Biggest Fish
21. Wanting One More Year
22. The Sparkle of a Diamond
23. Pay Heed, All Who Enter
Epilogue: Shining On

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