Men's Basketball
UK Athletics
John Calipari - Men's Basketball - University of Kentucky Athletics



A “players-first” coach with a penchant for helping people reach their dreams, John Calipari, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, has guided six teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped 58 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his 32-year college coaching career.

From UMass to Memphis and now Kentucky, Calipari’s career has been successful throughout, but his most recent run in Lexington has been the best stretch of his career.

During Calipari’s 15 seasons at UK, he is among the NCAA’s leaders in NCAA Tournament has more wins (32), Final Fours (four), Elite Eights (seven) or Sweet 16s (eight).

In advancing to the 2015 Final Four, Coach Cal became one of just three coaches all-time to make four Final Fours in a five-year span, joining Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden as the other coaches to achieve that feat. Twice at UK (in 2012 and in 2015) his teams have won 38 games, tying his 2008 Memphis team for the most wins in college basketball history.

At the end of the 2014-15 season, Calipari became the 96th coach to join the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, considered one of the ultimate achievements in the game.

Kentucky: The Gold Standard

Calipari reached the mountaintop in his third year in Lexington, guiding Kentucky to its eighth national championship and his first national title. He is one of only two coaches (Rick Pitino) to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014, 2015).

The Wildcats rode Calipari’s trademark of hard-nosed defense to the 2012 title, finishing the season as the nation’s top-ranked team in field-goal percentage defense and blocked shots.

Kentucky lost three members of its 2011 Final Four team (two to the draft, one to graduation), but Calipari reloaded with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class for the third straight season. Included in the class were eventual National Player of the Year Anthony Davis and All-American Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

En route to the national championship, Calipari guided the Wildcats to an NCAA record-tying 38 wins, a perfect 16-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference, all while extending his winning streak in Rupp Arena to 51 straight games. Calipari later extended his perfect mark at home as UK’s coach to 54 games before finally losing in his fourth season at Kentucky.

The 2012 team was tabbed the College Basketball Team of the Decade by the Associated Press.

Upon being named head coach on April 1, 2009, Calipari continued to work his magic of resurrecting once proud programs, taking an NIT team in 2009 to the 2010 NCAA Elite Eight. Along the way he led the Wildcats to a No. 1 ranking (UK’s first since 2003), and an SEC regular-season and tournament championship.

The honors continued after the 2009-10 season as Calipari became the first coach in UK history to receive the Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year award. He then watched as five of his players were selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, the first time a school has ever produced five first-round picks in a single draft. Among those picks was the first Wildcat ever taken as the No. 1 overall selection, John Wall.

In his inaugural season as head coach of the Wildcats, Calipari posted his fifth straight 30-win season, the only coach in NCAA Division I history to do so. In addition to the Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year award, Calipari was also named the Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year.

When he led Kentucky back to the No. 1 spot in the country, Calipari became one of only two coaches (Frank McGuire) in NCAA history to lead three different programs to a No. 1 ranking. He led UMass to a No. 1 ranking in 1995 and 1996, and he led Memphis to the No. 1 spot during the 2008 season.

In his second year in 2010-11, a season that was labeled as a “rebuilding effort,” one in which Calipari and the Cats were supposed to struggle after losing an unprecedented five first-round picks in the 2010 NBA Draft, Kentucky reloaded as Calipari guided UK to another SEC Tournament championship and collected his 500th career on-court win.

Coaching the youngest team in the nation in 2013-14, Calipari guided Kentucky back to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons, coming up just one win short of a second national championship.

Record as AP Top-Ranked Coach Since 2009-10

through the 2021-22 season
Coach Schools Records
1. John Calipari Kentucky 69-8
2. Mark Few Gonzaga 68-8
3. Mike Kzryzewski Duke 53-12
4. Bill Self Kansas 46-9
5. Jay Wright Villanova 28-6
6. Scott Drew Baylor 16-4
7. Jim Boeheim Syracuse 15-4
8. Tom Crean Indiana 14-3
9. Thad Matta Ohio State 13-2
10. Sean Miller Arizona 12-1

Record as AP Top-Ranked Coach (Active)

through the 2022-23 season
Coach Schools Records
1. John Calipari UK, Memphis, UMass 110-13
2. Mark Few Gonzaga 68-8
3. Bill Self Kansas 48-10
4. Bruce Weber Illinois 30-2
5. Thad Matta Ohio State 22-3
6. Bob Huggins Cincinnati 20-4
7. Scott Drew Baylor 16-4
8. Tom Izzo Michigan State 15-5
9. Sean Miller Arizona 12-1
10. Rick Barnes Texas, Tennessee 9-3

Calipari and the Cats reached the championship game in what some national pundits called one of the greatest NCAA Tournament runs of all-time. Seeded No. 8 in a region analysts dubbed “the region of doom,” UK knocked off previously undefeated and top-seeded Wichita State, downed defending national champion and archrival Louisville, and defeated defending national runner-up and Big 10 champion Michigan before edging Wisconsin in the Final Four. UK became the first team ever to knock off three of the previous season’s Final Four teams, and the Cats did so by starting five freshmen and coming off an appearance in the NIT the season before.

The core of that 2014 Final Four team returned to Lexington for the 2014-15 season and joined one of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes, putting Calipari in an unprecedented coaching position. With a roster full of players capable of starting at just about any other school, Coach Cal motivated his team to share and sacrifice minutes for one another with a two-platoon system and inspired a collection of future pros to play for one another.

The result was a season unlike anything college basketball had ever seen before. Behind one of the game’s best defensive units ever, the Wildcats became the first team in NCAA history to post a 38-0 record. Among UK’s most notable achievements in 2014-15 were the longest winning streak in program history, the best start ever by an SEC team, and SEC regular-season and tournament titles.

Though he deferred all the credit to his players for allowing the season to happen, Calipari raked in a handful of national coach of the year awards nonetheless, including honors from the AP (his first), Naismith (his third, becoming the first coach to win it at multiple programs), National Association of Basketball Coaches (his third), Sporting News and the Adolph Rupp Award (his second).

Since then, Kentucky has continued its SEC dominance and NCAA success under Calipari.

In 2015-16, Calipari replaced his top seven scorers, who went on to the NBA, and still led the Wildcats to their 47th regular-season SEC title and their 29th SEC Tournament crown. Tyler Ulis was tabbed an NCAA Consensus First Team All-American, becoming the shortest player to earn the distinction since 1958. He was also named the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year, the first such honor in program history.

Meanwhile, Calipari captured his 200th career win at Kentucky in his 240th game, becoming the second-fastest Division I men’s basketball coach to reach 200 victories at a single school. He’s currently the only coach in NCAA history with at least 189 victories at three different schools.

The 2016-17 team dominated the SEC en route to winning both the league regular-season and tournament titles for the third straight year. Malik Monk was named an NCAA Consensus Second Team All-American and broke the Kentucky freshman scoring record as well as the UK freshman single-game scoring record. He also took home the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year honor, a first for the program. The Cats fought through a tough NCAA Tournament draw and advanced to the Elite Eight for the sixth time in eight years under Calipari’s leadership.

In 2017-18, with the most inexperienced team in the history of college basketball, Calipari’s Cats grew up and came together at the end of the season to win the program’s fourth straight SEC Tournament championship and advance to the Sweet 16. During the season, Calipari became the fourth-fastest coach to earn 700-on court wins.

UK made its seventh trip to the Elite Eight in 10 seasons in 2018-19 while Calipari moved into second place on the UK career wins list. Kentucky notched seven wins over Associated Press Top 25 opponents and PJ Washington earned NCAA Consensus All-America Third Team honors.

The Wildcats returned to the top of the SEC in 2019-20 with Kentucky’s sixth regular-season conference crown in 11 seasons under Calipari. With Immanuel Quickley evolving from a reserve to the SEC Player of the Year and Nick Richards developing into one of the best big men in the country, UK won 17 of 20 games down the stretch and looked like one of the teams to beat nationally heading into the postseason. Unfortunately, the postseason (both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments) was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but not before UK posted a 25-6 record and Calipari won SEC Coach of the Year honors — as awarded by the league’s coaches — his 10th conference coach of the year honor in 28 seasons.

Oscar Tshiebwe became the program’s first unanimous National Player of the Year in 2021-22. Tshiebwe swept the six major awards (NABC, USBWA, AP, Sporting News, Naismith, Wooden) after leading the nation in rebounding with 15.1 boards per game. He became the first Division I player to average at least 15.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds per game since the 1979-80 season and first major-conference player to average at least 16.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds since Bill Walton at UCLA in 1972-73.

Calipari led the Wildcats to a 26-8 season, the 11th time in 13 seasons the team has amassed at least 25 wins in a season. He earned his 800th career on-court victory in 2021-22 and became the fourth-fastest coach to achieve the milestone.

He also surpassed 200 wins inside Rupp Arena which is the most of any Kentucky coach in the venue. The Wildcats enjoyed an unblemished 18-0 mark at home achieving a perfect mark for the sixth time under Calipari.

In 2023-24, the Wildcats went 23-10 and were paced by All-American Antonio Reeves who averaged 20.2 points per game, the most of the Calipari-era for a single season. Reed Sheppard was tabbed the National Freshman of the Year by the USBWA and NABC, while Rob Dillingham hauled in SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors.

During Calipari’s 15 seasons at UK, Kentucky ranks among the nation’s leaders in NCAA Tournament wins (32), Final Four appearances (four), Elite Eight berths (seven) and Sweet 16 showings (eight) than any other school. He has won six SEC Tournament titles (and appeared in eight of 14 possible title games) and won six SEC regular-season championships.

At the end of the 2010s, Calipari was named College Basketball Coach of the Decade by Sporting News for his work at Kentucky.

NBA Draft: Dream Fulfiller

As someone who prides himself on helping young men reach their dreams, he has helped 58 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his college coaching career, including 47 over his first 14 seasons at Kentucky. The 47 picks over that 14-season span are 12 more than the next closest school (Duke).

In 2010, five of his UK players were selected in the first round for the first time in NBA history. He followed that up with four players in the draft in 2011, six players in 2012 — the most in a two-round draft — two in 2013, two in 2014, another six in 2015, three in 2016, three in 2017, four in 2018, three in 2019 and in 2020, and two more in 2021. The 2015 haul included four lottery picks, tying the most in NBA history. In five of his drafts at Kentucky he’s had at least three first-round selections.

Overall as Kentucky’s coach, he’s churned out 47 NBA draft picks, 35 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall selections, 15 top-10 picks and 23 lottery selections at Kentucky. Since the 2008 draft, 52 of Coach Cal’s players have been taken in the NBA Draft, including 38 first-rounders. Calipari produced a top-10 pick in 11 straight drafts prior to 2020, a feat no other coach has ever accomplished. He has a streak of 16 consecutive drafts with a first-round pick.

Included in Calipari’s NBA success are four No. 1 overall picks (Derrick Rose, Karl-Anthony Towns, Wall and Davis). In 2012, it marked the first time two players from the same team (Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist) were taken with the first two selections in the draft.

Another way to look at Calipari’s phenomenal ability to put players in the NBA: 47 of the 70 full-time scholarship players who finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari were selected in the NBA Draft, a staggering 67.1% success rate. Another eight have appeared in an NBA game after going undrafted. Of the 34 players at UK who declared for the NBA Draft after their freshman season, 30 were first-round picks — 34 of 38 if you include his Memphis players — and all 32 prior to the 2023 NBA Draft from Kentucky have appeared in an NBA game. None of these numbers include the late Terrence Clarke, who died in a car accident prior to the 2021 NBA Draft.

Calipari’s players have entered the league NBA-ready. His players have garnered 39 All-Star selections — all since 2010 — with Davis winning the game’s MVP honor in 2017. Rose was named MVP in 2011. Nine of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Rose, Wall, Davis, Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, Julius Randle, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Towns and Tyreke Evans), and 15 players have made the NBA All-Rookie teams. UK has produced more All-NBA players, more NBA All-Rookie and more NBA All-Defensive players than any other school during the Calipari era.

When Fox was tabbed the 2023 NBA Clutch Player of the Year, Calipari became the first coach in history to have a former player win each of the NBA’s highest honors. Rose was tabbed MVP in 2011, Rookie of the Years include Rose (2009), Tyreke Evans (2010) and Towns (2016), Julius Randle was the Most Improved Player in 2021, Marcus Camby was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and Tyler Herro won Sixth Man of the Year in 2022.

The Success Rate

Much like he did at UMass, when his players graduated at nearly 80%, Calipari has stressed academics. Fifteen of his final 18 seniors who came through the Memphis program earned their bachelor’s degrees, and all 31 players at UK who were eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years have graduated, including six players (Brad Calipari, Brennan Canada, Patrick Patterson, Zan Payne, Jarrod Polson and Alex Poythress) who earned their degree in just three years.

Calipari’s teams routinely post grade-point averages of 3.0 or better, including a 3.763 team GPA during the 2020 spring semester. In the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation, UK routinely finishes at or near the top of the country. In 2020, Kentucky earned an NCAA award for a fifth straight season and sixth overall under Calipari for ranking in the top 10% in the nation in the APR for men’s basketball. Prior to the 2018-19 marks, UK had posted a perfect four-year composite Academic Progress Rate score of 1,000 for four consecutive seasons and six consecutive one-year scores of 1,000. Going back to 2007-08, the first year of the APR, all of Calipari’s teams have far surpassed the Division I average APR score.

Poythress was tabbed a CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team member in 2016, becoming the program’s first academic honoree since 1995. Meanwhile, Calipari’s players have earned 86 All-SEC Academic Team honors during his tenure at UK.

Hall of Famer

Birth Date Feb. 10, 1959
Place of Birth Sewickley, Pa.
Wife Ellen
Children Erin Sue, Megan Rae, Bradley Vincent
Date Hired at UK March 31, 2009
High School Moon Area High School, 1978
College Clarion State, 1982 (now Clarion)
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing
  • Starting point guard for Clarion State Eagles
  • Attended and played basketball at UNC-Wilmington (78-80)
Kansas Assistant Coach, 1983-85
Pittsburgh Assistant Coach, 1986-88
Massachusetts Head Coach, 1989-96
New Jersey Nets (NBA) Head Coach, 1997-99
Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) Assistant Coach, 2000
Memphis Head Coach, 2001-09
Kentucky Head Coach, 2010-pres.

After bringing the University of Massachusetts basketball program to national prominence in the ‘90s and resurrecting the Memphis basketball program in the 2000s, Calipari became the 22nd coach in UK history and seventh in the last 80 years.

Calipari’s overall on-court record is 832-253 (76.7%) following his 14th season at UK. He finished the 2022-23 season with the third-highest on-court winning percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches with 10 years of experience at college basketball’s Division I level, trailing only Mark Few and Bill Self.

Calipari is one of only two coaches (Roy Williams) in NCAA Division I history with 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. On the NCAA Division I list for best on-court winning percentage (minimum 10 years), Calipari entered the 2022-23 season in 11th place and ahead of Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Bob Huggins, Lute Olson and Phog Allen.

His 11 30-win on-court seasons are third most for a head coach in NCAA Division I history, and he is the first coach in NCAA Division I history to record five straight on-court 30-win seasons. For his college career (32 seasons), Calipari has 29 on-court seasons of 20 or more on-court wins and 20 different seasons of 25 on-court campaigns. His 26 consecutive on-court 20-win seasons, which was snapped in 2020-21, is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, trailing only Smith, who had 27.

His NCAA Tournament on-court record is 57-22, a .722 winning percentage, and his 32 NCAA Tournament wins are the most in school history. His six Final Four appearances are tied for seventh most by a coach all-time, and his 11 straight NCAA Tournament wins prior to the 2014 national championship loss was the longest winning streak in the tournament since the Florida Gators won 12 straight in 2006 and 2007.

When UK won the 2017 SEC regular-season title, Calipari became the first NCAA Division I coach to lead three different programs (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky) to five on-court regular-season league titles five different times. His 31 combined regular-season and conference championships trails only Few (41 titles) among all active coaches. All-time, Calipari trails only the great Adolph Rupp (41) and Few.

International Success

Calipari got a taste of international basketball when he accepted the head coaching position of the Dominican Republic National Team in 2011. His impact on the country was immediate and unprecedented.

In his first year with the team, Coach Cal led the Dominican Republic to a bronze-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina, defeating archrival Puerto Rico and world power Brazil along the way. The Dominicans came within one win in the semifinal round of qualifying for the country’s first-ever appearance in the Olympics. The third-place finish secured a spot at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament as one of 12 teams vying for three open spots to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. There, again, the Dominicans came within one win of making history and qualifying for the Olympics.

Calipari also led the Dominican Republic to a gold medal at the 2012 Centrobasket. It was the first Centrobasket title in eight years for the Dominican Republic and just the third in the country’s history.

In 2017, Coach Cal was named the head coach of the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team, which finished third at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo.

UMass: The Beginning

Coach Cal started his head-coaching career at UMass in 1988-89, guiding a struggling program to the top of college basketball, capped off by a Final Four appearance in 1996.

At 29, when he was named head coach, Calipari began building a program from the ground up, going 10-18 his first season before posting a 17-14 record his second year (receiving a bid to the NIT). The Minutemen won their first Atlantic 10 championship in 1992 with a 30-5 record, including a 13-3 mark in league play. With a 77-71 overtime win over Syracuse in an East Regional second-round game, UMass made its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.

From there, the program skyrocketed under Coach Cal.

Calipari compiled a 193-71 on-court record (.731) during his eight-year career at Massachusetts, including a 108-44 mark (.684) in A-10 play. In addition to five straight NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four appearance in 1996, UMass also made two appearances in the NIT, advancing to the NIT semifinals in 1991. The 1990-91 season was the first of six straight seasons in which the Minutemen won at least 20 games.

In his final season at UMass, Calipari was named the 1996 Naismith National Coach of the Year and The Sporting News National Coach of the Year. He was also named the A-10 Coach of the Year for the third time in four years, as well as the Basketball Times East Region Coach of the Year.

During the Minutemen’s 35-2 Final Four season in 1995-96, UMass posted wins over Kentucky, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Louisville. UMass ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation in the final regular-season poll after being the top-ranked team for nine weeks earlier in the year. The Minutemen also won their first 26 games of the season, setting a school record for most consecutive wins.

In addition to his Naismith National Coach of the Year honors in 1996, Calipari was a Naismith Coach of the Year finalist in 1994 and 1995. He was the USBWA District I Coach of the Year in 1993.

Calipari left UMass in June of 1996 to become executive vice president of basketball operations and head coach of the New Jersey Nets. He led the Nets to a second-place finish in the NBA’s Atlantic Division and the playoffs in 1998, ending a five-year postseason drought for the franchise. The Nets’ 17-game turnaround from the previous year was the best that season in the NBA.

He became a member of the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff in 1999, rejoining head coach Larry Brown, for whom Calipari was an assistant at Kansas.

He’s Back

Calipari returned to the college game in 2000 at Memphis, where he led the Tigers to the 2008 NCAA title game. Memphis’ 38 wins in 2007-08 made him the winningest coach for a single season in NCAA history. As a result, Calipari was named the Naismith National Coach of the Year for a second time in his career. He is only the second coach to receive the honor multiple times since the award’s inception in 1987. Krzyzewski is the other to do so.

Calipari, the 2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year, led the Tigers to nine straight 20-win campaigns and nine consecutive postseason appearances, the only Memphis coach to do that. He posted 252 on-court wins — 28.0 wins per season — as the Tigers’ head coach, making him the winningest coach in school history.

Calipari, who is on the board of directors for the National Association of Basketball Coaches, began his coaching career at Kansas as a volunteer assistant under Ted Owens. In 1983, he was hired as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Vermont, but he was swayed back to the nation’s heartland when Brown was hired as head coach at KU. He spent three seasons at Kansas (1982-85) before another three-year stint as an assistant coach to Paul Evans at Pittsburgh (1985-88).

The 61-year-old lettered two years at UNC-Wilmington before transferring to Clarion State. He played point guard at Clarion during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, leading the team in assists and free-throw percentage. The Eagles were ranked in the Division II top 20 both years and participated in the 1981 NCAA Division II Tournament.

NCAA Division I Active Winningest Coaches

(On-Court By Percentage – Min. 10 yrs. at Division I level)
*numbers through 2022-23 season
No. Coach/Team Years Pct..
1 Mark Few 24 .836
2 Bill Self 29 .769
3 John Calipari 31 .767
4 Sean Miller 18 .730
5 Tony Bennett 17 .723

Servant Leader

Calipari has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and beyond. He has had a particular passion to assist those impacted by natural disasters. For instance, in 2010, he used a telethon to raise more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He followed that up with telethons in 2012, raising $1 million for victims of Superstorm Sandy, in 2017 for victims of Hurricane Harvey, played a leading role in the “Kentucky United” efforts that generated more than $5 million for victims of devastating tornadoes in Western Kentucky in 2021, and raised nearly $4 million with the Kentucky Flood Relief Telethon and open practice at Rupp Arena in 2022.

Calipari launched his foundation in 2012, and since then the foundation has worked with several key partners, including Samaritan’s Feet, 4 Paws for Ability, Team Focus, the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, One Parent Scholar House, and the Kentucky Banker’s Association, which facilitates a program to teach Kentucky students the importance of financial management.  To these groups alone, the foundation has donated more than $1.5 million, a figure that does not include matching funds that have been contributed from individuals and corporations. Other nonprofits the foundation has supported through the years include the V Foundation, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, the Louisville Zoo Foundation and the American Red Cross – Bluegrass Chapter.

In 2013, Calipari initiated hosting an annual alumni weekend around his basketball fantasy experience with the intent to raise money for charity. After generating $350,000 for selected organizations and charities during the inaugural game, the weekend has generated millions of dollars for charity since its inception.

In 2019, when federal workers were without pay due to a government shutdown, he, his wife and his foundation assisted workers with financial help and grocery gift cards.

He was also instrumental in spearheading the creation of the John McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative, a nationwide coach-driven initiative to provide minorities a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network and instilling the values of John McLendon: integrity, education, leadership and mentorship. Participants in the initiative are known as MLI Future Leaders. Calipari was recently awarded an NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for inclusion for his work with the MLI.

Calipari was awarded the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in Sports by Multiplying Good in November of 2022. For more than 50 years, Multiplying Good has honored those who put others first. Those receiving the Jefferson Award are empowered to do more, while their stories of extraordinary public service inspire others to action. It is an award that underscores impact.

Author of five books, including the New York Times Best Seller “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out,” Calipari is a master of communication and maximizing talent. He lives by the motto “that it’s never a matter of how far you have fallen, but instead it’s about how high you bounce back.”

Calipari and his wife, Ellen, have two daughters, Erin and Megan, and a son, Brad.

Head Coaching Record

Season Team W-L Pct. Accomplishments
1988-89 UMass 10-18 .357
1989-90 UMass 17-14 .548 NIT
1990-91 UMass 20-13 .606 NIT Final Four
1991-92 UMass 30-5 .857 A-10 Champ (R/T); NCAA Sweet 16
1992-93 UMass 24-7 .774 A-10 Champ (R/T); NCAA Second Round
1993-94 UMass 28-7 .800 A-10 Champ (R/T); NCAA Second Round
1994-95 UMass 29-5 .853 A-10 Champ (R/T); NCAA Elite Eight
1995-96* UMass 31-1 .969 A-10 Champ (R/T)
1996-97 N.J. Nets 26-56 .317
1997-98 N.J. Nets 43-39 .524 NBA Playoffs
1998-99 N.J. Nets 3-17 .150
2000-01 Memphis 21-15 .583 NIT Final Four
2001-02 Memphis 27-9 .750 C-USA Div. Champ; NIT Champions
2002-03 Memphis 23-7 .767 C-USA Nat’l Div. Champ; NCAA
2003-04 Memphis 22-8 .733 C-USA Champ (R); NCAA Second Round
2004-05 Memphis 22-16 .579 NIT Final Four
2005-06 Memphis 33-4 .892 C-USA Champ (R/T); NCAA Elite Eight
2006-07 Memphis 33-4 .892 C-USA Champ (R/T); NCAA Elite Eight
2007-08* Memphis 0-1 .000
2008-09 Memphis 33-4 .892 C-USA Champ (R/T); NCAA Sweet 16
2009-10 Kentucky 35-3 .921 SEC Champ (R/T); NCAA Elite Eight
2010-11 Kentucky 29-9 .763 SEC Champ (T); NCAA Final Four
2011-12 Kentucky 38-2 .950 SEC Champ (R); NCAA Champions
2012-13 Kentucky 21-12 .636 NIT
2013-14 Kentucky 29-11 .725 NCAA Runner-Up
2014-15 Kentucky 38-1 .974 SEC Champ (R/T); NCAA Final Four
2015-16 Kentucky 27-9 .750 SEC Champ (R/T); NCAA Second Round
2016-17 Kentucky 32-6 .842 SEC Champ (R/T); NCAA Elite Eight
2017-18 Kentucky 26-11 .703 SEC Champ (T); Sweet 16
2018-19 Kentucky 30-7 .811 NCAA Elite Eight
2019-20 Kentucky 25-6 .806 SEC Champ (R); No postseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020-21 Kentucky 9-16 .360
2021-22 Kentucky 26-8 .765 NCAA First Round
2022-23 Kentucky 22-12 .647 NCAA Second Round
2023-24 Kentucky 23-10 .697 NCAA First Round
NCAA Totals 855-263 .765

*-season includes games later vacated due to NCAA sanctions; actual on-court records were 35-2 in 1995-96 and 38-2 in 2007-08. NCAA Tournament appearances were also vacated in 1996 and 2008. Actual on-court won-lost record overall is 810-241 for a .771 winning percentage.

Coaching Awards

  • 2024 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching
  • 2023 Race Amity Medal of Honor
  • 2022 Multiplying Good Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service
  • 2022 CUSA Hall of Fame
  • 2021 NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award (Inclusion)
  • 2020 SEC Coach of the Year (Coaches)
  • 2020 USBWA District IV Coach of the Year
  • 2020 NABC District 20 Coach of the Year
  • 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ‘Service Above Self’ Honoree
  • 2018 NABC Metropolitan Award
  • 2015 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 2015 Associated Press National Coach of the Year
  • 2015 Naismith National Coach of the Year
  • 2015 NABC National Coach of the Year
  • 2015 The Sporting News National Coach of the Year
  • 2015 Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year
  • 2015 SEC Coach of the Year (AP/Coaches)
  • 2015 USBWA District IV Coach of the Year
  • 2012 Nell & John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership Award
  • 2012 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 2012 SEC Coach of the Year (AP/Coaches)
  • 2010 Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year
  • 2010 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 2010 SEC Coach of the Year (AP)
  • 2010 Sporting News SEC Coach of the Year
  • 2010 Yahoo! Sports SEC Coach of the Year
  • 2010 USBWA District IV Coach of the Year
  • 2009 NABC National Co-Coach of the Year
  • 2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year
  • 2009 Phelan National Coach of the Year
  • 2009 Iba National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 2009 C-USA Coach of the Year
  • 2008 Naismith National Coach of the Year
  • 2008 C-USA Coach of the Year
  • 2008 Iba National Coach of the Year  Finalist
  • 2008 Phelan National Coach of the Year  Finalist
  • 2007 Phelan National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 2007 USBWA District IV Coach of the Year
  • 2007 Basketball Times S. Region Coach of the  Year
  • 2006 C-USA Coach of the Year
  • 2004 NABC District VII Coach of the Year
  • 1996 Naismith National Coach of the Year
  • 1996 NABC National Coach of the Year
  • 1996 The Sporting News National
  • Coach of the Year
  • 1996 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
  • 1995 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 1994 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
  • 1994 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
  • 1993 USBWA District I Coach of the Year
  • 1993 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
  • 1992 Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year

All-Time Calipari Draft Picks

For a full list of the players Calipari has coached, click here

Player (School) Round Year (Overall)
Bam Adebayo (UK) First 2017 (14)
Eric Bledsoe (UK) First 2010 (18)
Devin Booker (UK) First 2015 (13)
Brandon Boston Jr. (UK) Second 2021 (51)
Antonio Burks (MEM) Second 2004 (36)
Marcus Camby (UMASS) First 1996 (2)
Rodney Carney (MEM) First 2006 (16)
DeMarcus Cousins (UK) First 2010 (5)
Willie Cauley-Stein (UK) First 2015 (6)
Anthony Davis (UK) First 2012 (1)
Hamidou Diallo (UK) Second 2018 (45)
Joey Dorsey (MEM) Second 2008 (33)
Chris Douglas-Roberts (MEM) Second 2008 (40)
Robert Dozier (MEM) Second 2009 (60)
Tyreke Evans (MEM) First 2009 (4)
De’Aaron Fox (UK) First 2017 (5)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (UK) First 2018 (11)
Archie Goodwin (UK) First 2013 (29)
Josh Harrellson (UK) Second 2011 (45)
Andrew Harrison (UK) Second 2015 (44)
Tyler Herro (UK) First 2019 (13)
Isaiah Jackson (UK) First 2021 (22)
Dakari Johnson (UK) Second 2015 (48)
Keldon Johnson (UK) First 2019 (29)
Terrence Jones (UK) First 2012 (18)
Enes Kanter (UK) First 2011 (3)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (UK) First 2012 (2)
Brandon Knight (UK) First 2011 (8)
Kevin Knox (UK) First 2018 (9)
Skal Labissiere (UK) First 2016 (28)
Doron Lamb (UK) Second 2012 (42)
DeAndre Liggins (UK) Second 2011 (53)
Trey Lyles (UK) First 2015 (12)
Tyrese Maxey (UK) First 2020 (21)
Darius Miller (UK) Second 2012 (46)
Malik Monk (UK) First 2017 (11)
Jamal Murray (UK) First 2016 (7)
Nerlens Noel (UK) First 2013 (6)
Daniel Orton (UK) First 2010 (29)
Patrick Patterson (UK) First 2010 (14)
Immanuel Quickley (UK) First 2020 (25)
Julius Randle (UK) First 2014 (7)
Nick Richards (UK) Second 2020 (42)
Lou Roe (UMass) Second 1995 (30)
Derrick Rose (MEM) First 2008 (1)
Shaedon Sharpe (UK) First 2022 (7)
Marquis Teague (UK) First 2012 (29)
Karl-Anthony Towns (UK) First 2015 (1)
Tyler Ulis (UK) Second 2016 (34)
Jarred Vanderbilt (UK) Second 2018 (41)
Dajuan Wagner (MEM) First 2002 (6)
John Wall (UK) First 2010 (1)
PJ Washington (UK) First 2019 (12)
TyTy Washington Jr. (UK) First 2022 (29)
Shawne Williams (MEM) First 2006 (17)
James Young (UK) First 2014 (17)


Recruiting Trail

The Wildcats have signed more top-25 players under John Calipari’s leadership than any other school. Nearly a quarter of all Rivals’ top-10 prospects nationally over the past 12 classes have signed with Coach Cal and the Cats.

Player (year) ESPN Rivals 247 McDonald’s Jordan Brand
Aaron Bradshaw (’23) 4 5 4 Y Y
Robert Dillingham (’23) 11 7 9 Y
Justin Edwards (’23) 1 4 2 Y Y
Reed Sheppard (’23) 21 22 30 Y
D.J. Wagner (’23) 2 3 3 Y Y
Chris Livingston (’22) 12 8 5 Y Y
Shaedon Sharpe (’22) 1 1 1
Cason Wallace (’22) 9 10 7 Y Y
Daimion Collins (’21) 19 18 13 Y Y
Bryce Hopkins (’21) 33 38 43 Y
TyTy Washington (’21) 14 14 19 Y
Devin Askew (’20) 26 33 37 Y
Brandon Boston Jr. (’20) 7 5 6 Y Y
Terrence Clarke (’20) 10 8 10 Y Y
Cam’Ron Fletcher (’20) 61 49 80
Isaiah Jackson (’20) 34 28 34 Y
Lance Ware (’20) 46 36 43
Kareem Watkins (’20) NR@ NR@ NR@
Dontaie Allen (’19) NR 68 98
Keion Brooks Jr. (’19) 36 29 14 Y
Brennan Canada (’19) NR@ NR@ NR@
Johnny Juzang (’19) 30 34 31
Tyrese Maxey (’19) 13 10 10 Y Y
Kahlil Whitney (’19) 12 14 11 Y Y
Ashton Hagans (’18) 20 13 12
Tyler Herro (‘18) 30 36 38 Y
Keldon Johnson (‘18) 7 15 18 Y Y
EJ Montgomery 14 11 6 Y
Zan Payne (’18) NR NR NR
Immanuel Quickley (‘18) 25 22 19 Y
Jemarl Baker Jr. (‘17) 66 82 90
Hamidou Diallo (‘17) 11~ 10~ 11
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (‘17) 35 34 20
Quade Green (‘17) 24 22 33 Y Y
Kevin Knox (‘17) 10 10 18 Y Y
Nick Richards (‘17) 17 17 15 Y Y
Jarred Vanderbilt (‘17) 19 14 12 Y Y
PJ Washington (‘17) 12 15 9 Y Y
Bam Adebayo (‘16) 5 7 12 Y Y
Brad Calipari (‘16) NR NR NR
De’Aaron Fox (‘16) 6 6 6 Y Y
Wenyen Gabriel (‘16) 14 13 14 Y
Sacha Killeya-Jones (‘16) 24 24 25 Y
Malik Monk (‘16) 9 9 10 Y Y
Tai Wynyard (‘16) NR NR NR
Isaiah Briscoe (‘15) 13 10 16 Y Y
Jonny David (‘15) NR@ NR@ NR@
Isaac Humphries (‘15) 49 NR^ 62
Skal Labissiere (‘15) 2 1 2 Y
Charles Matthews (‘15) 42 48 74 Y
Jamal Murray (‘15) NA^ 9 10
Devin Booker (‘14) 18 29 22 Y Y
Trey Lyles (‘14) 6 13 17 Y Y
Karl-Anthony Towns (‘14) 9 5 2 Y Y
Tyler Ulis (‘14) 25 21 20 Y Y
EJ Floreal (‘13) NR@ NR@ NR@
Aaron Harrison (‘13) 9 7 5 Y Y
Andrew Harrison (‘13) 5 5 3 Y Y
Dominique Hawkins (‘13) NR NR 151
Dakari Johnson (‘13) 7 9 8 Y Y
Marcus Lee (‘13) 25 19 14 Y Y
Julius Randle (‘13) 3 2 2 Y Y
Derek Willis (‘13) NR 115 58
James Young (‘13) 8 11 10 Y Y
Archie Goodwin (‘12) 15 14 18 Y Y
Willie Cauley-Stein (‘12) 40 40 47
Nerlens Noel (‘12) 1 2 1 Y
Alex Poythress (‘12) 13 8 7 Y Y
Anthony Davis (‘11) 1 2 1 Y Y
M. Kidd-Gilchrist (‘11) 4 3 2 Y Y
Sam Malone (‘11) NR@ NR@ NR@
Brian Long (‘11) NR@ NR@ NR@
Marquis Teague (‘11) 8 5 6 Y Y
Kyle Wiltjer (‘11) 19 22 21 Y Y
Terrence Jones (‘10) 9 13 8* Y Y
Enes Kanter (‘10) 25 3 3*
Brandon Knight (‘10) 4 6 6* Y Y
Doron Lamb (‘10) 29 21 28* Y Y
Jarrod Polson (‘10) NR@ NR@ NR*@
Stacey Poole, Jr. (‘10) 51 33 67*
Eric Bledsoe (‘09) NR 23 37*
DeMarcus Cousins (‘09) 4 2 3* Y Y
Jon Hood (‘09) 92 40 46*
Daniel Orton (‘09) 13 22 17* Y
John Wall (‘09) 5 1 2* Y
Top-10 Players 27 31 31
Top-25 Players 54 56 55
Top-50 Players 67 71 68
McDonald’s All-Americans 44
Jordan Brand Classic All-Americans 53

* ranking | ~ final ranking in the 2017 class before early enrollment | ^ reclassified after final rankings were released | @ joined team as walk-on

Calipari in Conference (at the end of the 2022-23 regular season)

SEC Coaches Conference Championships Tournament Championships NCAA Tournament Appearances
Nate Oats, Alabama 5 5 6
Eric Musselman, Arkansas 3 1 6
Bruce Pearl, Auburn 8 3 21
Todd Golden, Florida 0 0 1
Mike White, Georgia 3 0 4
John Calipari, Kentucky 16 15 22
Matt McMahon, LSU 4 3 3
Dennis Gates, Missouri 2 2 2
Kermit Davis, Ole Miss 5 4 6
Chris Jans, Mississippi State 4 3 4
Lamont Paris, South Carolina 1 1 1
Rick Barnes, Tennessee 4 7 27
Buzz Williams, Texas A&M 1 0 9
Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt 0 0 0
TOTALS 56 39 112

More on Cal

  • Calipari owns the most single-season wins with 38, tying his own record (Memphis in ‘08 and UK in ‘12) in 2015 with 38 wins. He owns the most single-season wins at UMass, Memphis and UK
  • Calipari is the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history for a five-year span with 173 victories (2008-12)
  • Calipari is the first coach in NCAA Division I history to record five straight on-court 30-win seasons. Memphis hit the 30-win plateau from 2006-09
  • Calipari is one of only two coaches (Rick Pitino) to lead three different schools to a Final Four
  • Calipari is one of only three coaches (John Wooden, Mike Kzryzewski) to go to four Final Fours in five seasons
  • Calipari has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 12 of the last 17 NCAA Tournaments and the Elite Eight in 10 of the last 17
  • Calipari started with a 54-0 record in Rupp Arena as head coach of the Wildcats
  • Calipari has 45 players who have been chosen in the NBA Draft (34 first-round picks) over the last 13 seasons
  • Calipari has more wins (327) in a 10-year period (2006-15) than any other coach in college basketball history
  • Calipari is the fourth-fastest Division I men’s basketball coach to reach 300 victories at a single school
  • Calipari’s 31 combined regular season and tournament league titles trail only Mark Few (41) of Gonzaga for the most among active coaches
  • Calipari became the fourth-fastest coach to 800 on-court wins, behind only Adolph Rupp, Roy Williams and Dean Smith
  • Calipari has the second-most wins in school history, behind only Adolph Rupp
  • Calipari’s 32 NCAA Tournament wins are the most in school history. Rupp had 30
Read more