Calipari to receive Wooden Award
Published 11:49 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari will receive the John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching honor in 2024. Calipari will be presented with the honor along with the 2024 Wooden Award winners on April 12, 2024.
The Legends of Coaching Award was adopted by the Wooden Award Steering Committee in 1999. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.
“To receive an honor in John Wooden’s name is really special to me because he not only is the greatest coach of all-time, but because of the relationship I developed with his family over the years,” Calipari said. “His daughter, Nan, and he have been so kind to me. I look forward to April and hopefully having a Player of the Year candidate there with me.”
Calipari, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and the 2012 Nell & John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership Award winner, just completed his 14th season at Kentucky. He has guided six teams to the Final Four, led the 2011-12 UK team to a national championship and helped 58 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his 31-year college coaching career.
The second-winningest coach in program history has a 387-113 record at Kentucky with four Final Four appearances, six Southeastern Conference regular-season championships and six league tournament titles.
Calipari is one of just two coaches to win Naismith Coach of the Year three times and, with an 832-253 on-court record, he ranks among the top 10 in all-time Division I victories.
Motivated by the drive to draw others to a good cause, Calipari has tried to lead by example and instill servant leadership as one of the pillars of his program. He continually encourages his players to lead with a kind heart and has included them in a number of causes throughout his career. Those experiences, while a player under Calipari, have paved the way for the likes of Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall to earn the NBA’s Cares Community Assist Award.
All 29 players at UK who were eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years walked away with a diploma in hand, including five players who earned their degree in just three years. Calipari’s teams routinely have posted a combined team grade-point average of 3.0 or better.
Calipari has spearheaded 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 will be known as MLI Future Leaders.
Just last November, Calipari also was recognized for his work in putting others first when he received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in Sports by Multiplying Good. The organization, which has honored many of the country’s most significant trailblazers and changemakers for more than 50 years, is the world’s most foremost and highly-celebrated organization focused on and honoring public service.