Kentucky’s Calipari to return to UNCW as Tip-Off Dinner speaker

John Calipari (Photo: Photo: Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond / CC BY 2.0)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hall of fame basketball coach John Calipari will return to where his college basketball career started when he comes back to Wilmington this fall to speak.

UNCW announced that Calipari, currently the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, will be the keynote speaker for the 4th Annual Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Dinner. Calipari started his playing career at UNCW in the late 1970s.

- Advertisement -

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Burney Center on campus. Ticket information will be announced later. Proceeds for the 7 p.m. dinner will benefit UNCW men’s basketball.

“We’re very excited that Coach Calipari is going to speak at our tip-off banquet banquet,” UNCW coach C.B. McGrath said in a news release. “It’s going to be a great event, and we’re thrilled to welcome him back as a former student-athlete. His success as a coach is second to none. What he does off the court to help others is phenomenal. He is extremely generous to help UNCW basketball.”

A 2015 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Calipari has coached six teams to the NCAA Final Four, including the 2012 national championship at Kentucky. Forty-nine of his players have been selected in the NBA draft during his 27-year collegiate coaching career.

Calipari has made three NCAA Division I coaching stops: UMass, Memphis and UK. In 10 seasons in Lexington, Calipari leads all coaches in total wins (305), NCAA Tournament victories (31), Final Fours (4), Elite Eights (7) and Sweet Sixteens (8).

While piling up numerous honors and awards, Calipari’s led the 2011-12 Wildcats to the NCAA national title in his third season as head of Big Blue Nation. He remains one of just two coaches to lead three different programs (UMass-1996, Memphis-2008 and Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2012, 2015) to a Final Four, joining Rick Pitino in the feat.

Calipari owns a career coaching record of 708-209 (.772), including a mark of 305-71 (.811) at Kentucky. He has coached teams to 15 conference championships and a 51-17 (.750) NCAA Tournament record.

The Sewickley, Pa., native also coached at Kansas (assistant coach, 1983-85), Pittsburgh (assistant coach, 1986-88), UMass (head coach, 1989-96), New Jersey Nets (head coach, 1997-99), Philadelphia 76ers (assistant coach, 200), Memphis (head coach, 2001-09).

As a player, Calipari appeared in 25 games in two seasons with the Seahawks in 1978-79 and 1979-80 before transferring to Clarion, Pa. A point guard, he scored 21 points with seven rebounds and 22 assists for the Seahawks. He scored a career-high nine points at Campbell on Jan. 8, 1979.

UNCW Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Dinner Speakers
2016 – Seth Greenberg, ESPN Analyst
2017 – Roy Williams, Head Basketball Coach, University of North Carolina
2018 – Brad Brownell, Head Basketball Coach, Clemson University
2019 – John Calipari, Head Basketball Coach, University of Kentucky

For more information, contact the Seahawk Club at