Matt Figger is beginning his fifth season at Kansas State as an assistant coach in 2011-12, including his first as recruiting coordinator, after being hired to the staff by head coach Frank Martin on June 11, 2007. He was promoted to recruiting coordinator on June 10, 2011.
Figger has played a key role in the development of the K-State program, helping the Wildcats to four consecutive 20-wins season and a quartet of postseason appearances, including NCAA Tournament bids in 2008, 2010 and 2011. The back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances are the first since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1987-90. Overall, the Wildcats have posted a 95-43 (.688) overall record, including a 40-24 (.625) mark in Big 12 play, during Figger's tenure. The 95 wins tie for the most in a four-year period in school history.
In addition, Figger has helped coach two All-Americans, including back-to-back selection Jacob Pullen (2010, 2011), and five All-Big 12 performers during his tenure. Pullen, who became the first player in school history to be named First Team All-Big 12 twice, was also selected the 2011 winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Trophy that goes annually to nation's best player 6-foot and under by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Pullen became the school's all-time leading scorer (2,132) in 2010-11.
This past season, Figger helped the squad to its unprecedented fifth consecutive 20-win season, including a tie for third place in the always-difficult Big 12, and its third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four seasons. Overall, the Wildcats posted a 23-11 overall record, including a 10-6 mark in league play, and lost to No. 16 Wisconsin in the third round of the Southeast Regional at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. Among the team's 23 wins were six over ranked teams, including the nation's top-ranked squad (No. 1 Kansas) and its first over a Top 10 team (No. 7 Texas) on the road since 1994.
Figger contributed to one of the school's greatest seasons in 2009-10, as Kansas State posted a school-record 29-8 overall record, including a Big 12 era high tie for second place in the league standings with an 11-5 mark. The Wildcats advanced to the postseason with their highest-ever seed (No. 2) in the NCAA Tournament and earned its first trip to the Elite Eight in more 20 years. In the process, the team knocked off a school-record six ranked opponents, including the first win over a No. 1 team since 1994, and finished the season ranking in the Top 10 for seven straight weeks capped by the school's first final Top 10 ranking since 1973 at No. 7 in both the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches and Associated Press Top 25 polls.
The record-breaking season of 2009-10 came on the heels of a solid 2008-09 campaign, in which, Figger helped the squad to a 22-12 record and a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 standings with a 9-7 mark. The Wildcats advanced to the postseason with an at-large bid to the National Invitational Tournament, where they lost in the second round to San Diego State.
In his first season, Figger helped K-State record a 21-12 overall record, including a third-place finish in Big 12 play with a 10-6 mark. It marked not only the highest conference finish since the 1987-88 season, but also was the first time the team has collected 10 or more league victories in back-to-back seasons since the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons. The squad earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly 12 years, where the 11th-seeded Wildcats defeated fifth-seeded USC, 80-67, to capture its first NCAA Tournament win since 1988 before bowing out in the second round to third-seeded Wisconsin.
Figger came to K-State after spending five years as an assistant coach at South Alabama under head coach John Pelphrey from 2003-07. He helped the Jaguars to some of their greatest successes his last two seasons, guiding the program to 44 wins, including 25 conference wins, consecutive Sun Belt Conference West Division titles, the 2006 league tournament and 2007 regular season crowns. The squad also reached the postseason in back-to-back seasons, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years in 2006 before earning a bid to the MasterCard NIT in 2007. In addition, he helped coach five all-league selections in the last two years, including 2007 first team honoree Demetric Bennett, as well as Chey Christie, the most outstanding player of the 2006 Sun Belt Tournament.
Figger followed Pelphrey to his new position as head coach at Arkansas as director of basketball operations on April 12, 2007, before opting to return to the assistant coaching ranks at K-State.
Despite losing its top three scorers, Figger helped South Alabama tally a 20-12 overall record, including a 13-5 mark in league play, in 2006-07 en route to capturing the Sun Belt regular season and West Division crowns. After starting the season with a 7-7 record, the Jaguars put together a 13-game winning streak from Jan. 4 to Feb. 14, including 12 straight in league play, to earn their first regular season league crown since 1998. The squad lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, but did earn a bid to the MasterCard NIT, where they lost in the first round to Syracuse, 79-73. Junior guard Demetric Bennett was named to the all-conference first team, while junior forward Ernest Little and junior guard Daon Merritt were selected to the second and third team, respectively.
Figger helped South Alabama post one of its most successful seasons in 2005-06, as the squad collected a 24-7 overall record (the second-most wins in school history) en route to capturing the Sun Belt West Division and tournament championships and a NCAA Tournament berth for the time since 1998. The Jaguars lost in the first round of the tournament to eventual national champion Florida. The squad led the league in scoring margin (+8.1) and three-point field goal defense (30.0) and was second in steals (8.52) and scoring defense (65.6). USA averaged 8.6 3-pointers per game on 37 percent shooting.
After winning just 10 games a season before, the 24-win total in 2005-06 represented a 14-game improvement which was the biggest turnaround in the NCAA that season. USA improved in nearly every statistical category from the previous season, going from 62.3 to 73.6 points, from a 41.6 field goal percentage to 45.3, a 64.6 free-throw percentage to 70.3, 11.0 assists to 14.1, 7.6 steals to 8.5 and 207 made 3-pointers to 267.
Hired to Pelphrey's original staff at South Alabama, Figger helped steadily build the Jaguars into a power in the Sun Belt guiding the team to a 14-14 overall record in 2002-03, a 12-16 mark in 2003-04 and a 10-18 record in 2004-05 before the breakthrough year in 2005-06.
Prior to his tenure at South Alabama, Figger spent 10 years as an assistant coach in the junior college ranks, including stints at Wabash (Ill.) College (1993-94), Vincennes (Ind.) University (1995-99) and Odessa (Texas) College (2000-02). During this stay, his teams won 20 or more games eight times, captured six region and four district titles and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament four times.
Figger came to South Alabama after a three-year stint as an assistant to head coach Orlando Ontiveroz at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, from 1999-2002. After producing a 13-17 record in 1999-2000, the Wranglers went a combined 48-15 in 2000-01 and 2001-02 with each squad advancing to the NJCAA regional tournament. The 2001 squad posted a 27-7 record and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament. The team captured the Region V, District and West Junior College Athletic Conference titles.
Figger spent five seasons at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., as an assistant coach to NJCAA Hall of Famer Dan Sparks from 1994 to 1999. He helped the Trailblazers to a 132-39 (.772) overall record and three trips to NJCAA national tournament (1995, 1997, 1998). In addition, the squad captured four Region XII titles (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998) and three District crowns (1995, 1997, 1998) during his tenure. He helped the school to its highest win total in nearly four years in 1998, as the Trailblazers produced a 31-5 overall record and finished fifth at the national tournament.
Figger began his coaching career at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., where he helped lead the Warriors to a 29-3 overall record in 1993-94.
Among the players Figger coached during his junior college career were four-time NBA All-Star Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks and former NBA player Tyrone Nesby. He also has coached five NJCAA All-Americans, including Tarone Barker (Cincinnati), Mitchell Dunn (Miami), DeShay Jones (Tennessee), Shawn Marion (UNLV) and Janavor Weatherspoon (Oklahoma State). In his nine-year career at the junior college level, he coached more than 35 players who signed NCAA Division I scholarships.
A native of Jenkins, Ky., Figger, 41, earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Eastern Kentucky in 1995. He played college baseball at Pikeville College in Pikeville, Ky., from 1990-91 before completing his education at EKU.