Born: May 29, 1976 - Hampton, Iowa
MFL MarMac H.S., 1994
University of Kansas, 1998
National Basketball Association, 1998-2008
In the rich tradition of basketball at the University of Kansas, Raef LaFrentz was one of the all-time greats for the Jayhawks.
A native of Monona, Iowa, LaFrentz was a two-time first-team All-American at Kansas, a first-team All-Big 12 selection three times and was known for his perimeter shooting (despite being 6-foot-11) and shot-blocking ability. He played for the Jayhawks from 1994-98 and graduated as the school’s No. 2 all-time scorer (2,066 points) and rebounder (1,186), one behind all-time leader Danny Manning.
“To be considered for the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is a great honor,” LaFrentz said. “There is a long list of athletes from all sports that achieved at very high levels, and to be added to it is very humbling. It always feels good to be recognized for the work done during competition.”
LaFrentz, now 35, was one of the nation’s top high school players during his prep days at MFL MarMac High School in Monona, Iowa. It was former Kansas head coach Roy Williams, who won the recruiting battle for the McDonald's All-American, calling him every Sunday night for a year.
“The recruitment process is an exciting time in the life of a 17- or 18-year old kid,” LaFrentz said. “There are relationships developed with coaches that you grew up watching and dreaming of playing for. I never knew if I would be fortunate enough to play Division I college basketball until I had Coach Williams in the stands watching me.
“At that point, I think he made a decision that I was going to be a Jayhawk and he began to work to make that a reality. He never missed a beat and built a sense of trust that I could achieve my goals learning from him. He made it impossible for me, in my right mind, to go anywhere else. It turned out to be one the best decisions of my life and I really have him to thank for it.”
LaFrentz averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds a game during his KU career, while shooting 55.5 percent from the floor with his soft left-handed touch. During his four years at KU, the Jayhawks posted a 123-17 record and he was part of a senior class that won more games over a four-year period than any class in KU history.
LaFrentz became the first KU player to average a double-double in 27 years when, as a senior, he averaged 19.8 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. He joined Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only two-time All-Americans during the 1990s and had his jersey retired by KU in 2003.
LaFrentz was the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1998 NBA Draft and played 11 seasons with the Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Portland Trailblazers. He played in 563 NBA games and averaged 10.1 points and 6.1 rebounds for his career.
LaFrentz has been retired from the NBA for three years. He, his wife Joie and sons Cael and Rex have moved back to Iowa to be closer to other family members.
“I spent many years traveling playing basketball,” he said. “Raising my sons takes up most of my time and wouldn't want it any other way. We waited until my career was close to an end to start a family for that reason.”
LaFrentz said athletics will always be an important part of his life although he is not currently active in basketball.
“At some point, I look forward to getting involved with competition again in some capacity,” he said. “But, for now, I am content learning a variety of new fields away from sports.”