116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Jess Settles says he gets asked two questions more than any other by Iowa basketball fans.
“How’s Coach (Tom) Davis and whatever happened to Chris Kingsbury?” Settles said.
Davis recruited Settles and former McDonald’s All-American Kingsbury to Iowa, and they were teammates for three seasons in the mid-1990s.
Kingsbury was a shooting star. As a sophomore in 1994-95 when he averaged 16.2 points, he made 117 3-pointers. That’s still the Iowa record for a season. He made nine 3-pointers in a game twice in 1994. No other Hawkeye has matched that.
They weren’t ordinary 3-pointers, either. They were deep, sometimes NBA-deep, sometimes other-side-of-the-Iowa-River-deep.
“It was crazy,” Settles said Tuesday. “We played Hawaii at the Rainbow Classic out there, and after the game their coach was on the court measuring where he had made one of his shots. He couldn’t believe it.
“Then the next morning I go down to the lobby of our hotel, and Chris is there playing the piano. He was Beethoven and Larry Bird in the same 24 hours.
“He was just a legend.”
Now the name “Kingsbury” is returning to Hawkeye basketball. Carter Kingsbury, Chris’ son from Ponca, Neb., will be a preferred walk-on. Settles helped get that ball rolling.
With CJ Fredrick transferring out of Iowa, Settles knew Fran McCaffery needed outside shooting.
“Jess gave me Fran’s phone number and I reached out to Fran,” Chris Kingsbury said Tuesday. “Fran gave me and Carter a comfort level. I can’t think of a better place, and we have the trust in the coach.”
“Carter is bigger than I was at that stage,” Chris said. “He has a thick lower half. He’s knowledgeable about the game and can shoot it from wherever.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter couldn’t get much exposure to college coaches last season. “Then,” Chris said, “there also were 1,500 kids in the transfer portal.”
“Chris was a little concerned Fran wouldn’t remember who he was,” Settles said, “but Fran has a photographic memory of everyone who has played in the last 25 years and has a story about everybody.”
The metaphorical part of Chris as a shooting star at Iowa was his junior year. He had a suspension early in the season for off-court misconduct, and didn’t play as much or as well as in the year before. He left Iowa after that season, played pro ball for a few years in the U.S. and Italy, then moved to Nebraska in 2001.
Chris is a fifth-generation Kingsbury at the Bank of Dixon County in Ponca, a 20-minute drive from Sioux City. He is senior vice president and chief operating officer. He also is a father of six children, from ages 22 to 5. His daughter, Ashlyn Kingsbury, is an all-state basketball player about to enter her junior season at Ponca High.
The Chris Kingsbury Iowa knew was a young guy who would shoot from the logo at center court and never be afraid of a big moment. He scored 27 points after halftime in a 1995 overtime win over Connecticut in Alaska, outplaying a fellow named Ray Allen who now is a basketball Hall of Famer.
But he checked out of Iowa City after that season without looking back too often.
“It’s a million years ago in some aspects,” Kingsbury said. “The older your kids get, it’s like printing new tape. You put new memories in your mind. It’s way more fun to pump your fist when your kid does something in front of 5,000 fans than for something you did in front of 20,000.”
Settles said some of his former Iowa teammates have been on a group text, excited about a Kingsbury and two Murrays playing on the Hawkeyes. Kenyon Murray, another former McDonald’s All-American, played with Settles and Kingsbury at Iowa. His twin sons, Keegan and Kris Murray, will be sophomores this season.
At the minimum, Carter Kingsbury can gain the experience and connections at Iowa to get a Division I scholarship somewhere, Perhaps, as Nicholas Baer did, he can play his way from walk-on to scholarship as a Hawkeye.
Meanwhile, here’s what Chris Kingsbury is sure to find: When he comes back to Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a 46-year-old Hawkeye parent a quarter-century removed Iowa City, he’ll be warmly welcomed back by a lot of Iowa fans. Legends don’t fade away.
Comments: (319) 398-8440; firstname.lastname@example.org