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Atlanta Tipoff Club | March 11, 2019

Semifinalists for college basketball Naismith Coach of the Year award announced

Roy Williams has lived and died at the buzzer in March

Today, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the semifinalists for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award, which includes 11 candidates due to ties in the voting process. Seven coaches are seeking their first such honor, including Rick Barnes (Tennessee), Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Nate Oats (Buffalo), Matt Painter (Purdue), Kelvin Sampson (Houston) and Mike Young (Wofford). The other four candidates are former Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award winners with three coaches who have won at different colleges than where they currently coach.

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Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, who won the award in 2007 at Washington State and in 2018 at Virginia, would be the first back-to-back winner in the history of the men’s award. Kentucky head coach John Calipari also looks to make history with what could be his fourth honor, following wins in 1996 at Massachusetts, in 2008 at Memphis and in 2015, where he joined Tubby Smith (2003) and won the second men’s award coaching for Kentucky. Should Roy Williams win, he would join North Carolina winners Dean Smith (1993) and Bill Guthridge (1998) and win his second trophy since 1997 when he won at Kansas. Mark Few is also hoping to win his second Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award at Gonzaga after previously winning in 2017.

“With the regular season complete, the competition for Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year will pick up as tournament play begins,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We’re looking forward to watching these candidates lead and push their teams to excel through post season.”

The four finalists for the Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men’s College Coach of the Year will be announced on March 20. Fans will be able to support their favorite coach by visiting between March 22-April 3, to cast their ballot, and the fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote. Then, on April 7, 2019, the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men’s College Coach of the Year will be awarded at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson, during the Final Four in Minneapolis.

“The Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year semifinalists have each excelled in coaching their teams throughout the regular season,” said Stacy Gardella, vice president of brand marketing at WernerCo. “We look forward to watching these coaches inspire their teams and wish them luck as they approach the tournament.”

2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Semifinalists




Rick Barnes



Chris Beard

Texas Tech

Big 12

Tony Bennett



John Calipari



Mark Few



Tom Izzo

Michigan State

Big Ten

Nate Oats



Matt Painter


Big Ten

Kelvin Sampson

Houston AAC

Roy Williams

North Carolina ACC

Mike Young

Wofford SoCon

The four finalists will be chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2018-19 college basketball season. The vote will be tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.

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