Calipari, Dampier inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame

04/06/2015 04:51 PM

Their was one ray of sunshine in what was otherwise a dark and gloomy 2015 Final Four for the Kentucky men’s basketball team.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined both UK head coach John Calipari and Wildcat legend Louie Dampier in its 2015 class on Monday in Indianapolis.

“This is going to be hard for people to understand, but I’m at a loss for words,” said Calipari during the ceremony. “I was overwhelmed when I heard the news and so grateful. I would imagine other recipients felt how I feel now: unworthy of such an honor, but appreciative. As a coach, this honor means that many parents entrusted you with their sons and many players entrusted you with their careers. That’s why this honor has happened for me, and I’m indebted to all of them, all of the staffs and all of the administrations that have helped me build these programs.”

Both Calipari and Dampier will join the legends of college basketball in the Naismith Hall of Fame, considered to be one of the top honors in the sport. The other members of the 2015 class include Dick Bavetta, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn, John Isaacs, Spencer Haywood, Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo, George Raveling and JoJo White.

Each new 2015 member will be enshrined during Hall of Fame festivities on September 10-11 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Calipari’s credentials rank among the best in his profession. In 23 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level, he’s directed six teams to the Final Four from three different programs (UMass, Memphis, and Kentucky), taken Kentucky to the Final Four in four of the last 5 seasons, led the Wildcats to their eight the national championship in 2012, and helped develop his players into 30 NBA Draft picks — 15 of them first-rounders.

His 2014-2015 Kentucky basketball team was the first in NCAA history to post a 38-0 record before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four on Saturday. It’s 38 wins also tied a record Calipari already owns for most wins in a collegiate season (Kentucky in 2012, and Memphis in 2008).

Dampier was named one of five direct elects as initial members of the 2015 class back in mid-February. The former guard helped guide Kentucky to the 1966 national title game and was a seven-time ABA All-Star for the Kentucky Colonels, winning the league championship in 1975.

“I thought maybe it was a possibility, said Dampier, “but I didn’t really expect it.”

He joked that he found out he would be honored in the 2015 class while he was vacuuming.


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