Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari will join basketball’s fraternity of legends in September after being elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame following an announcement that was made Monday at a press conference in Indianapolis.
“This is going to be hard for people to understand, but I’m at a loss for words,” Calipari said. “I was overwhelmed when I heard the news and so grateful. I would imagine other recipients felt how I feel now: unworthy of such an honor, but appreciative.
“As a coach, this award means that many parents entrusted you with their sons and many players entrusted you with their careers. That’s why this award has happened for me, and I’m indebted to all of them, all of the staffs and all of the administrations that have helped me build these programs.”
Calipari will join an elite group of basketball players and coaches in the Naismith Hall of Fame, considered to be one of the ultimate honors in the sport. Calipari and the Class of 2015, which will also include Dick Bevetta, Louie Dampier, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn, John Isaacs, Spencer Haywood, Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo, George Raveling and JoJo White, will be enshrined during Hall of Fame festivities in Springfield, Mass., Sept. 10-11.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame consisted of 325 inductees, including 95 coaches.
Twelve finalists were eligible for this year’s induction. A finalist needed 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for elections into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dampier, a former Wildcat (1965-67), was named one of five direct elects as initial members of the Class of 2015 in mid-February and will be a part of the induction ceremonies in September. Dampier, a second team All-American at Kentucky and a seven-time ABA All-Star, was voted in from the American Basketball Association Committee.
Earlier, Calipari was named the Naismith Coach of the Year for the third time in his illustrious career by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Sunday at the Naismith Awards Brunch in Indianapolis.
This year’s honor is the first while at the helm of the Kentucky program. Calipari previously claimed the honor in 2008 as the head coach at Memphis and in 1996 while at Massachusetts. He is the first coach in the history of the award to have won the honor while at the helm of three different programs.
He is also one of 12 finalists eligible to go in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game.
“A coaching award is a staff award, and we are all celebrating these awards that are coming our way together because of the way these players have allowed us to coach them,” Calipari said. “The Naismith award is one of the first national coaching awards I received back in 1996 and holds a special place with me.
“When I heard that I was a finalist, I was excited just because it’s a reflection of how hard this staff and how hard our players have worked. To be able to get this prestigious award at three different schools is an honor, and I want to thank the Naismith committee for this award.”
The winner was determined by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, which based its criteria on the coaches’ performances to this point in the 2014-15 men’s college basketball season.
In addition to earning the honor, Calipari was a finalist for the award in five additional seasons. Other finalists for the 2015 award included Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan and Jay Wright of Villanova.
Calipari led UK into a second straight Final Four this season, and the fourth in the last five years on the back of a 38-0 record before falling to Wisconsin Saturday in the national semifinals. Kentucky was the first team to enter the Final Four undefeated since 1991.
With 38 victories this season, Calipari’s 2014-15 Wildcats tied his 2007-08 Memphis team and his 2011-12 national championship Kentucky team’s NCAA Division I record for single-season wins.
Kentucky has spent 19 straight weeks at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 this season, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. UK now owns the NCAA Division I record for most appearances at No. 1 in the AP poll in a single season at 19.
Calipari was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in his career earlier this season. He was also Sporting News, Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ National Coach of the Year.
From UK Athletics