Kentucky Wildcats head men's basketball coach John Calipari was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015 along with 10 other individuals on April 6.
John Calipari was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6.
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According to a press release on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's official website, 10 other individuals will join Calipari when they are officially inducted on Sept. 11, 2015. The others are Dick Bavetta, Spencer Haywood, Dikembe Mutombo, Jo Jo White, Lisa Leslie, Louis Dampier, John Isaacs, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn and George Raveling.
Heinsohn was selected as a player in 1986 and will be inducted as a coach, per ESPN.
The Class of 2015 was announced at a press conference in Indianapolis, In., where the 2015 Final Four is currently held. CBS Sports' Jim Nantz hosted NBA TV's telecast of the announcement, per HoopHall.com.
In order to be elected, finalists must get 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee, per the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's official website.
The hall's president and CEO, John L. Doleva, congratulated the electees in the press release:
"We are honored to recognize the highly distinguished Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015. They have contributed a great deal to the game we all love, as players, coaches, teachers, mentors and more.
"They have dedicated themselves to their craft and serve as an inspiration to many. We look forward to honoring each of these inductees during the Enshrinement festivities in September."
Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, paid tribute to the 11 electees, per HoopHall.com:
"The Class of 2015 is a group of outstanding individuals who represent many eras and facets of basketball. Their commitment to the game is undeniable and the impact they have had on others is even greater. We are very pleased to honor this remarkable group of inductees."
For his part, Calipari told USA Today's Eric Prisbell he did not expect to be bestowed such an honor:
"It was just surreal for me. It's not something I ever thought about it or thought would happen...I'm so appreciative.
"I feel phony because I don't see myself this way. I went around the room. I see Coach (Denny) Crum and anytime we went head to head he beat our brains in. I saw Coach (Jim) Calhoun, now I did beat his brains in."
Calipari, who coached the UMass Minutemen from 1988-96, told Prisbell he got that job because nobody else was interested. He also stressed had ESPN not televised UMass games back then, he was not sure how his career would have gone.
"If I'm not at Kentucky, I'm not sure this (Hall of Fame induction) happens," Calipari tells USA Today.
Calipari stressed the same point to ESPN:
"I always wanted to have a job like the other guys. I had nothing against Massachusetts or Memphis, but you were always kind of at the little table and it left me wondering what would happen if I got one of those jobs...I'll say it again, if I don't get hired by Kentucky, I don't know [if I make it], maybe."
In another development, Calipari told The Louisville Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker on Monday five to seven of his Kentucky Wildcats players are most probably NBA-bound.
"I would guess five would be the minimum but seven is a distinct possibility," he told Tucker.
Among those who are likely gone include Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Karl Anthony-Towns and Trey Lyles. Dakari Johnson and Devin Booker are still weighing things out, per The Louisville Courier-Journal.
Calipari emphasized to Tucker he wants each of his players to make this important life decision on his own:
"There's not going to be any brainwashing, forcing, pushing either in or out. I want each kid to make a decision for themselves. I did tell a couple of the kids that it's a man's league; it's not a child's league. If you're not ready for a man's league, you need to come back."
Prisbell stresses Calipari becomes the seventh active college hoops coach to be inducted. The others are the Louisville Cardinals' Rick Pitino, the North Carolina Tar Heels' Roy Williams, the Duke Blue Devils' Mike Krzyzewski, the Syracuse Orange's Jim Boeheim, the SMU Mustangs' Larry Brown and new St. John's Red Storm head men's basketball coach Chris Mullin, who was inducted as a player.
Calipari has amassed a 635-178 (.781) in his collegiate basketball coaching career with the UMass Minutemen, Memhpis Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats, per Sports-Reference.com.
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