No matter where Chris Kingsbury was on the court, it always seemed he was in range to knock down a 3.
During his Hawkeye career from 1994-96, Kingsbury twice made nine 3-pointers in a game. His 117 3-point field goals in the 1994-95 season is an Iowa record and the second-best single-season performance in Big Ten history.
His basketball abilities still garner high praise from the Big Ten’s elite.
In a 2011 appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Tom Izzo was asked about the best long-range shooter he’d ever seen.
Izzo forgot the name, but remembered the skills, reminiscing about a guy who once played at Iowa.
Nearly 20 years have passed since he played his last game with the Black and Gold, but the Kingsbury name continues to carry almost mythical status among legions of Hawkeye fans.
Kingsbury, 40, who now works as the senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Bank of Dixon County, still shoots hoops with his kids, and plays 1-on-1 with his oldest son — a freshman in high school who plays on the basketball team.
The married father of five lives in Ponca, Nebraska — about 20 miles northwest of Sioux City. He’s spent the last 13 years at the bank, in charge of investments, running day-to-day operations, overseeing compliance, and working as a licensed loan officer.
But when he isn’t working, he can likely be found spending time with his children, and devoting his time to watching a new generation of Kingsburys on the basketball court.
Sometimes, his kids will watch their father’s performance against UConn in the 1995 Great Alaska Shootout. It appears to be the only Kingsbury highlight reel on youtube.
The UConn game in Alaska stands out as one of the more memorable games of his collegiate career, he said — describing it as a “good teaching game” for his kids. After scoring just three points in the first half, Kingsbury dominated the second half and overtime — knocking down five 3s and scoring 27 second-half points.
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“I don’t spend a whole lot of time looking back, but it’s fun for me that my kids think it’s neat,” he said. “I try to teach my kids to always think about the next play. That’s what creates the passion for the game. You’ve got to miss some so the made shots are more enjoyable.”
Kingsbury hasn’t been back to see a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since his playing days. Whether he was playing professionally, working at the bank, or spending time with his family, he says the timing just hasn’t worked for him to plan a trip back to Iowa City.
He hopes to take his kids back one day, so his children can watch a game in the place where their father used to knock down shots from well-beyond the perimeter in front of thousands of screaming Hawkeye fans.
Jess Settles was Kingsbury’s roommate freshman year and teammate through the duration of his Iowa career. During a Feb. 9 radio segment with The Sports Fanatics on KXNO (1460 AM in Des Moines), Settles called Kingsbury a “gamer” and “the ultimate teammate.”
“He played with such a passion and was so reckless on the court,” Settles said. “He was a guy who was ahead of his time. He could stretch defenses, and he was must-see television for all Big Ten fans.”
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Former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding — who co-owns Tailgate Clothing Company at 30 S. Clinton Street in Iowa City — immortalized Kingsbury on one of their new T-shirts. The shirt has been one of the store’s top sellers since it was unveiled on Jan. 14, 2015.
“I’m proud to have played for Iowa,” Kingsbury said. “Iowa has extremely passionate fans. States like Nebraska and Iowa have that extra passion when there aren’t pro teams in the area. It makes a difference and made it a lot of fun. You care as a player to put a product on the court that people can be proud of. We certainly tried to do that at Iowa.”
A highly touted McDonalds All-American from Ohio, Kingsbury immediately made an impact with the Hawkeyes. He was the team’s top free throw shooter in 1994 and 1995, and led the squad in scoring in the 1995 campaign.
In addition to 3s, he was known for the occasional no-look pass. Settles called Kingsbury “one of the best passers he’d ever played with,” noting his Iowa teammate would know where a player was going before they even made a move.
Kingsbury ended his Iowa career with 1,118 points (678 of which came from 3-pointers), and set the school’s career 3-point record. The mark has since been eclipsed by Jeff Horner and Matt Gatens, but both needed four years to pass a record Kingsbury set in just three years with the program.
On the court, Kingsbury radiated confidence — a vital quality for any 3-point shooter. Whether he’d missed the last five shots or made five in a row meant nothing to Kingsbury. Hot or cold, he kept shooting.
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Kingsbury opted to forego his senior year at Iowa and try the professional ranks.
“I just didn’t want to be in college anymore. That’s the bottom line,” he said.
An NBA team didn’t draft him. The Washington Bullets gave Kingsbury a shot, but released him during the exhibition season. He played in the Continental Basketball Association and in Italy before calling it a career to focus on his family.
While he has work-related goals at the bank, family remains the central emphasis for the former Hawkeye. Growing each day with his wife and being there for his kids is the primary objective.
He just recently started playing basketball with a group of local guys. Kingsbury said he can still shoot the ball OK, but running up and down the court has become a bit more of a struggle.
Looking back at his collegiate playing days, Kingsbury has no regrets. While playing another season at Iowa likely would have padded his statistics, the former Hawkeye doesn’t think about what would have happened if he elected to stay.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “It all played out in a way that I’m extremely pleased with today. By coming out early, right or wrong, it was a decision I made and part of where I’m at today.”
That’s Kingsbury — always thinking about the next play.