The class will be announced on April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis prior ot the national championship game. A finalist needs 18 fo 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be inducted. The new class will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 10-11.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Calipari said in a statement released by UK. “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.”
Calipari’s credentials include coaching eight 30-win seasons, leading five teams to the Final Four in 22 years and winning the national championship with Kentucky in 2012. The 56-year-old was Naismith Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2008. He has also helped produce 30 NBA Draft picks, including 19 in his first five seasons at UK.
The list of finalists also includes: 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.