WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kentucky head coach John Calipari is the recepient of the inaugural Nell and John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership award, presented Thursday evening during a reception held at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“You think about it, just being thrown in a situation where Coach Wooden’s daughter gives me an award, are you kidding me?” Calipari said during a radio interview with Mike Wise. “I don’t even care what the award is. That for me is really special.”
Calipari was presented the award by the late coach’s daughter, Nan Wooden, during a special dinner and awards ceremony. Calipari and Wooden were joined by former NCAA Tournament Director Tom Jernstedt and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Member Jim Host, recognized as “the godfather of collegiate sports marketing,” as head-table guests at the event.
“I just have so much respect (for Coach Wooden),” Calipari said. “When you hear his former players talk about him, he was the first players’ coach where it was a players-first program even though he disciplined, even though he had certain standards that had to be met and all those things. It was about the players, and it was always about them.”
Calipari has directed the Wildcats to consecutive Final Four appearances that concluded with UK’s eighth national title in 2012. He is one of just two coaches in NCAA history to direct three schools to Final Four appearances.
The Wildcats will tipoff the 2012-13 season on Friday, Oct. 12 with Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.