John Calipari was announced as the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team head coach on March 8, 2017. Tad Boyle (Colorado) and Danny Manning (Wake Forest) will serve as assistant coaches.
Though this will be their first USA Basketball coaching venture together, Calipari, Boyle and Manning all were at the University of Kansas at the same time – Calipari (1983-85) as an assistant coach and Boyle (1981-85) and Manning (1984-88) as players.
“Being a part of USA Basketball is special,” Calipari said. “What Jerry Colangelo has done, along with Jim Tooley and Sean Ford, to not only build the national team but also build a winning culture with all the teams, has been incredible to watch. This gives me an opportunity to give back to the game that has been so good to my family and me as well as a game that I love. It is an honor to be asked to coach.
“I coached both Tad and Danny at the University of Kansas,” Calipari added. “I’m so proud of what they’ve become as coaches and as representatives of this game. I’m looking forward to reuniting and learning from both of these special coaches.”
2016-17 is Calipari’s eighth season at Kentucky (2009-10 to present), where he has guided four Wildcat teams, and six teams overall, to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, including the 2012 NCAA National Championship. He currently possesses an impressive 243-52 record at Kentucky (.824 winning percentage, as of March 5).
In his 25th season as a collegiate head coach, Calipari owns a 646-90 overall record (.878, as of March 5) that also includes eight seasons at the University of Massachusetts (1988-89 to 1995-96), nine at the University of Memphis (2000-01 to 2008-09) and his current position at the University of Kentucky.
Coach Cal has posted 23 20-win seasons, nine 30-win seasons and four 35-win seasons, and was selected the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 1996, 2008 and 2015. Recently, he became the first coach in Division I men’s basketball history to win five different regular-season conference titles at three different schools.
He also spent more than two seasons as head coach of the NBA New Jersey Nets (1996-97 to 1998-99), reaching the 1998 NBA Playoffs, and time as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers (2000) and as an assistant at Kansas (1982-85) and University of Pittsburgh (1985-88).
Previously with USA Basketball, he served as head coach of the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team.
Calipari also gained international basketball experience while coaching the Dominican Republic Men’s National Team in 2011 and 2012. He led the Dominicans to a bronze medal at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship and to gold at the 2012 Centrobasket. Twice his teams came within one win of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in the country’s history.
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. Twice at UK (in 2012 and in 2015) his teams won 38 games, tying his 2008 Memphis team for the most wins in a season in college basketball history.
In his third year in Lexington in 2011-12, Calipari guided Kentucky to its eighth national championship and his first national title. He is one of two coaches to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014, 2015).
En route to the 2012 national championship, Calipari guided the Wildcats to an NCAA record-tying 38 wins, a perfect 16-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference and an SEC Tournament championship, while extending his home winning streak to 51 games. He later extended that mark to 54 games before finally losing in his fourth year at Kentucky.
After being named head coach on April 1, 2009, Calipari took his 2009-10 squad to the NCAA Elite Eight. He led the Wildcats to a No. 1 ranking and an SEC regular-season and tournament championship. In his inaugural season with the Wildcats, he posted his fifth-straight 30-win season, the only coach in NCAA Division I history to do so.
Calipari became the first coach in UK history to receive the Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year award in 2010, and he also was named the Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year. Five of his players were selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, the first time a school produced five first-round picks in a single draft.
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 teams 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 in the 2008 season.
In his second year in 2010-11, Calipari guided UK to another SEC Tournament championship and collected his 500th career on-court win.
In 2013-14, Calipari guided Kentucky to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons and reached the national championship game. UK became the first team to knock off three of the previous season’s Final Four teams.
In 2014-15, the Wildcats became the first team in NCAA history to post a 38-0 record. Among the notable achievements in 2014-15 were the longest winning streak in program history, the best start by an SEC team and an SEC regular-season and tournament title. Calipari also notched his 600th on-court victory, becoming the 13th active Division I coach to do so.
Calipari raked in several national coach of the year awards, including the AP, Naismith (his third, becoming the first coach to win it at multiple programs), National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News and the Adolph Rupp Award.
In 2015-16, Calipari led the Wildcats to an SEC title and an SEC Tournament crown. He 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 is currently the only coach in NCAA history with at least 189 victories at three different schools.
Calipari has helped 39 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his college coaching career, including 28 over his first seven seasons at Kentucky. The 28 picks over that seven-season span is more than double any other coach. The 2015 haul included four lottery picks, tying the most in NBA history.
Calipari has produced a top-10 pick in nine-straight drafts. No other school has had a first-rounder in each of the last nine drafts.
Included in Calipari’s NBA success are four No. 1 overall picks (Derrick Rose, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Wall and Anthony Davis) over an eight-year period. No other coach has had more than two No. 1 picks, and 2012 was the first time two players from the same team (Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist) were taken with the top two picks in the draft.
Twenty-eight of the 41 players who have finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari have been selected in the NBA Draft, a staggering 68.3-percent success rate. Of the 18 players at UK who have declared for the NBA Draft after their freshman seasons, all 18 have been first-round picks. Calipari is 22 for 22 in that regard if you include his Memphis players.
He entered the 2015-16 season with the third-highest winning percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches with five years of experience at college basketball’s Division I level, trailing only Mark Few and Roy Williams.
Calipari is one of only two coaches (Williams) in NCAA Division I history to have 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. Since 2005-06, he has the best winning percentage among all Division I coaches. On the NCAA Division I list for best on-court winning percentage (minimum 10 years), Calipari entered the 2016-17 season in fifth place.His nine 30-win 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. His 21-consecutive 20-win seasons is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, trailing only Dean Smith, who had 27.
His NCAA Tournament record is 48-16, a .750 winning percentage. His six Final Four appearances are tied for seventh most by a coach all-time.
He started his head-coaching career at UMass in 1988-89, capped off by a Final Four appearance in 1996.
Calipari led UMass to a 10-18 record in his first season before posting a 17-14 record in his second year. The Minutemen won their first Atlantic 10 regular season championship in 1992 with a 30-5 record, and UMass made its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.
Calipari compiled a 193-71 on-court record (.731) during his eight years at Massachusetts. 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 the named the A-10 Coach of the Year for the third time in four years and the Basketball Times East Region Coach of the Year.
During the Minutemen’s 35-2 Final Four season in 1995-96, UMass ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation in the final regular-season poll. The Minutemen also won their first 26 games of the season, setting a school record for 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.
Calipari returned to the college game in 2000 at Memphis, where he led the Tigers to the 2008 NCAA title game. As a result, Calipari was named Naismith National Coach of the Year for a second time. 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 —making him the winningest coach in school history.
Calipari, who is on the board of directors for the NABC, 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).
Calipari 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.
Calipari’s foundation, The Calipari Foundation, has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and across the country, and 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 another telethon in 2012 that raised $1 million for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
A year after helping raise $350,000 for charity during the inaugural UK alumni weekend, Calipari was the driving force behind the more than $1 million that was donated to local and national organizations during the second annual alumni weekend. Despite the absence of the alumni game – a large generator of the alumni weekend funds — in 2014, he and his basketball fantasy experience matched the $1 million the following year. Then in 2015, Calipari helped organize an Alumni Game matching UK alums against North Carolina alums. That game, which was broadcast nationally on ESPNU, along with the fantasy experience, raised $1.5 million with matching funds.
With Rupp Arena under construction in 2016, Calipari held a celebrity softball game during the annual UK alumni weekend. That game, with the fantasy experience, raised approximately $1.5 million for charity with matching funds, including more than $450,000 that went to Louisiana flood relief efforts.
Calipari’s foundation also has worked with and donated money to Samaritan’s Feet, the West Liberty Recovery Fund, 4 Paws for Ability, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Urban League of Lexington and the V Foundation. Calipari has also headed up the EverFi Financial Literacy Program, which teaches students across Kentucky the importance of money management.
He is the author of five books, including the New York Times Best Seller “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out.”
Calipari and his wife, Ellen, have two daughters, Erin and Megan, and a son, Bradley.