Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari has been named the head coach of the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team and will lead Team USA at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship in July in Cairo.
The move was officially announced Wednesday after Calipari was selected by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
“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.”
Calipari will oversee the direction of the team, starting with training camp, June 18-25, at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, Calipari and his staff will select the 12-member USA U19 World Cup Team before heading to Egypt for the biennial FIBA World Championship, July 1-9.
“USA Basketball has assembled an outstanding staff led by Coach Calipari, and the team will excel under their leadership,” said Matt Painter, Purdue University head coach and chair of the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle and Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning will serve as assistants. Calipari was an assistant at Kansas (1983-85) during parts of the careers of Boyle and Manning.
“I coached both Tad and Danny at the University of Kansas,” Calipari said. “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.”
Team USA will look for its third straight title at the FIBA World Championship after capturing gold at the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.
Now in his 25th season as a college head coach, Calipari has guided six teams to the Final Four – including four in a five-year period – led one to the national championship in 2012, and helped 39 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his college coaching career.
The Naismith Hall of Famer has posted 23 20-win seasons, nine 30-win seasons and four 35-win seasons at the college level. The three-time Naismith College Coach of the Year (1996, 2008 and 2015) leads all active coaches with 23 consecutive seasons of 20 or more on-court wins and trails only Mike Krzyzewski (13) and Roy Williams (10) for most 30-win seasons.
Just recently, with the Wildcats’ 2017 Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, Calipari became the only coach in Division I men’s basketball history with five regular-season league titles at three different schools.
Of course, Calipari has a distinguished track record of development, a fitting distinction for a coach of the U19 World Cup Team. In his goal to lead a players-first program, Calipari has helped 39 players realize their dreams and guide them to NBA Draft selections, including a record five first-round draft picks in 2010. Two years later, six Wildcats heard their names called at the 2012 draft, the most in the two-round draft era. UK, with Calipari’s help, would tie those six picks again in 2015, including a record-tying four lottery selections.
His four No. 1 overall picks are twice as many as any other coach, and he’s had 28 players drafted during his seven years at Kentucky, including 21 first-round picks. He is also the only coach to have players go No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the same draft when Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist earned the honor in 2012.
Calipari previously served with USA Basketball as the head coach of the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team, but he has recent international experience as the head coach of the Dominican Republic National Team in 2011 and 2012. His impact on that country’s national team was immediate and unprecedented.
In his first year with the team, Calipari led the Dominican Republic to a bronze-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina, defeating archrival Puerto Rico and world power Brazil along the way. The Dominicans came within one win in the semifinal round of qualifying for the country’s first-ever appearance in the Olympics. The third-place finish secured a spot at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament as one of 12 teams vying for three open spots to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. There, again, the Dominicans came within one win of making history and qualifying for the Olympics.
Calipari also led the Dominican Republic to a gold medal at the 2012 Centrobasket tournament, which is contested by the national teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was the first Centrobasket title in eight years for the Dominican Republic and just the third in the country’s history.
As for Calipari’s new team, the United States drew Group D for preliminary-round games at the FIBA World Championship and will open against Iran on July 1. Team USA will then play Angola on July 2 and will cap preliminary round action vs. Italy on July 4 (game times are to be determined).
The United States earned its berth into the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup by virtue of claiming gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group-play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold- and bronze-medal games are slated for July 9.
In the 12 previous U19 competitions held, the USA men’s teams have won six gold and three silver medals, including gold in three of the past four U19 championships (2009, 2013 and 2015).