Calipari Selected as Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Finalist
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari is on the doorstep of one of the ultimate honors for a basketball coach, as he was announced as one of 12 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
The announcement was made Saturday at NBA All-Star weekend.
Calipari is one of 12 finalists eligible to go in to the Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2015 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 10-11.
"I'm at a loss for words," Calipari said of being named a finalist. "I want to thank the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame committee for even considering me. The process is by no means over - I'm just a finalist at this point - but to even be mentioned as a finalist among these worthy candidates is an unbelievable honor. I am absolutely humbled by this.
"I want to thank the people at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky for giving Ellen and I an opportunity to coach at three great institutions. I want to thank all the assistants and staff who have worked for us over the years, as well as the people in the community who have added value to our lives. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the players who have let us coach them and all of the parents who entrusted us with their son. Thank you."
Among the 12 finalists are six players, five coaches and one referee. Joining Calipari as a first-time finalist are 39-year NBA referee Dick Bavetta, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch, all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutumbo, four-time Division III national champion coach Bo Ryan, seven-time NBA All-Star Jo Jo White, the all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie. Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood and three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson.
Former Wildcat Louie Dampier (1965-67) was named one of five direct elects as initial members of the Class of 2015. Dampier, a second-team All-American at Kentucky and a seven-time ABA All-Star, was voted in from the American Basketball Association Committee.
Calipari's credentials are certainly Hall of Fame worthy. In his 22-plus years as a college head coach, he's guided five teams to the Final Four - including three over the last four years - one to a national championship and produced 30 NBA Draft picks, including 19 in his first five seasons at Kentucky and 15 first-rounders.
Included in those 30 draft picks are three No. 1 picks (Derrick Rose, John Wall and Anthony Davis). Calipari is the only coach with three top draft picks.
Among Calipari's most notable achievements are eight 30-win seasons, including five straight from 2006 to 2010. He's the only coach in NCAA Division I history to achieve that feat. The 56-year-old has won two Naismith Coach of the Year honors (1996 and 2008), the Adolph Rupp Coach of the Year award (2010) and been a Naismith finalist four other times.
On his way to more than 600 on-court wins, which he achieved this season, he's notched 21 consecutive seasons of 20 or more on-court victories, more than all other active coaches. Of course, as a players-first coach, Calipari credits his success to his players, which include 16 All-Americans during his career and three national players of the year (Marcus Camby, Wall and Davis).
The Pennsylvania native has won 12 regular-season conference championships, 11 conference tournament titles and has been named the coach of the year in his respective conference eight times in his decorated career.
In Calipari's third year in Lexington, he guided Kentucky to its eighth national championship. In the process, he became one of only two coaches to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014).
On the way to that national championship, Calipari guided the Wildcats to an NCAA-record-tying 38 wins, a perfect 16-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference and the school's 45th SEC championship.
Following his fifth season at UK, Calipari's overall on-court record was 597-166, giving him the third-highest winning percentage (.771) among active NCAA Division I coaches with 10 years of experience at college basketball's Division I level, trailing only Mark Few and Hall of Famer Roy Williams. After opening the 2014-15 campaign with three straight wins, Calipari became the 13th active head coach with on-court 600 wins.
Calipari is one of only two coaches (Williams) in NCAA Division I history to amass 400 or more wins in his first 16 years as a head coach, and his 173 victories from 2008-12 are the most ever for a coach over a five-year span in Division I history. Since the 2005-06 season, he has the best winning percentage among all Division I coaches.
His NCAA Tournament record of 43-14 (.754) gives him the second-highest winning percentage among active coaches and the second highest of all-time (minimum 20 games). His five Final Four appearances are tied for the ninth most by a coach all-time, and his 11 straight NCAA Tournament wins prior to the 2014 national championship loss represented the longest winning streak in the tournament since the Florida Gators won 12 straight in 2006 and 2007.
Calipari's foundation, The Calipari Foundation, has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and across the country, and in 2010, he used a telethon to raise more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He followed that with another telethon in 2012 that raised $1 million for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
A year after helping raise $350,000 for charity during the inaugural UK alumni weekend, Calipari was the driving force behind the more than $1 million that was donated to local and national organizations during the second annual alumni weekend. Despite the absence of the alumni game - a large generator of the alumni weekend funds -- in 2014, he and his basketball fantasy experience matched the $1 million the following year.
For the latest on the Kentucky men's basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter and on the web at UKathletics.com.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 15, 2015