John Calipari Named to Naismith Coach of the Year Watch List
LEXINGTON, Ky.– With his team firmly in the discussion as one of the nation’s best, Kentucky coach John Calipari was recognized for another stellar coaching job with Friday’s inclusion to the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List.
Rebounding from one of the toughest seasons in Kentucky’s history, Calipari finds himself leading a 21-5 Kentucky squad that is ranked No. 3 in the country, is one of only three teams in the nation to rank among the nation’s best in both offensive and defensive efficiency and is in the mix for one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
He’s one of 15 coaches being considered for the 2022 award. Mark Adams (Texas Tech), Ed Cooley (Providence), Scott Drew (Baylor), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Steve Forbes (Wake Forest), Greg Gard (Wisconsin), Jeff Linder (Wyoming), Tommy Lloyd (Arizona), Bob McKillop (Davidson), Matt McMahon (Murray State), Bruce Pearl (Auburn), Kelvin Sampson (Houston), Shaka Smart (Marquette) and Brad Underwood (Illinois) complete the list.
Calipari is already one of just two coaches to win the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year three times, tied with Duke’s Mike Kzryzewski (1989, 1992, 1999) for the most Naismith honors. Calipari is looking to become the first four-time winner of the award. He last won it in 2015 and holds the distinction of having won the honor at three schools, also Memphis in 2008 and Massachusetts in 1996. In addition, he has been a finalist in 1994, 1995, 2010 and 2012.
Kentucky enters the final two weeks of the regular-season as one of the best offensive teams in the country and an underrated defensive unit. UK has six players averaging at least 9.0 points per game and rank in the top-20 nationally in rebound margin (+10.8), scoring margin (+15.9), rebounds per game (41.12), assists per game (16.9), points per game (80.6), offensive rebounds per game (13.15) and field-goal percentage (.485).
With notable wins that include a neutral-site victory in the CBS Sports Classic over North Carolina, a record-breaking 107-79 win over No. 22 Tennessee at home and a dominating victory inside Allen Fieldhouse over Kansas in January, it makes it even more impressive when it’s noted that Kentucky has played just 12 complete games this season at full strength and has not suffered a setback since Dec. 11 with a full complement of its roster.
This season has featured a few milestones for Calipari.
Calipari earned his 800th career win in 2021-22. At the time he was on of just 22 coaches, regardless of NCAA level of classification, to reach that barrier. Only 14 coaches have done it with at least 10 seasons at the Division I Level.
In reaching the 800-win plateau, Calipari became the fourth-fastest coach to the milestone. He achieved the feat in 1,037 games. Only Adolph Rupp (972), Roy Williams (1,012) and Dean Smith (1,029) did it faster.
Now with 805 on-court victories, Calipari is tied with Rick Byrd for 13th for the most victories in Division I history.
He also surpassed 200 wins inside of Rupp Arena which is the most of any Kentucky coach in the venue. The Wildcats have won 16 straight inside the building dating back to last season and are 15-0 on the year.
A “players-first” coach with a penchant for helping players reach their dreams, Calipari has guided six teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped 54 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his now-30-year college coaching career.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer guided Kentucky to its eighth national championship and his first national title in 2012. In becoming only the second coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools to the Final Four, he has racked over 800 on-court victories and 20 NCAA Tournament on-court appearances.
In his time at Kentucky, Calipari has won more NCAA Tournament games, appeared in more Final Fours, appeared in more Elite Eights, and played in more Sweet 16s than any other coach during the time period.
Among the other major coach of the year honors Calipari has won during his career:
- Three-time NABC National Coach of the Year
- Three-time Naismith National Coach of the Year
- Three-time Sporting News National Coach of the Year
- Two-time Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year
- Ten-time conference coach of the year (league or media in Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Southeastern Conference)
- 2021 NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award – Inclusion
- 2018 NABC Metropolitan Award
- 2015 Associated Press National Coach of the Year
- 2012 Nell & John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership Award
- 2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday when the Cats play host to Alabama in Rupp Arena. That game will tip at 1 p.m. on CBS.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and on the web at UKathletics.com.