Hamilton on ballot for Naismith Hall of Fame class of 2021
By Chuck Walsh
Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, who has won nearly 600 games and who is the fifth all-time winningest coach in ACC history, was named as a candidate for the Naismith Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Hamilton highlights the list of four first-time coaching candidates, including Ken Anderson (Wisconsin-Eau Claire), Lou Henson (Hardin-Simmons, New Mexico State, Illinois) and Paul Westhead (NBA and College).
Hamilton is in his 19th season as the Seminoles’ Head Coach and is the winningest coach in program history with 365 wins during his tenure at Florida State. He has led Florida State to a pair of ACC Championships (2012 and 2020) and to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. In his first 18 years at Florida State, the Seminoles have advanced to the postseason 14 times with trips to the West Regional Finals (2018) and West Regional Semifinals (2019) in the last NCAA appearances for the Seminoles.
Hamilton has been named as the National Coach of the Year four times and by four different national governing bodies. He was named the Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year in 2018, the Basketball Times Coach of the Year in 2009, the BCA National Coach of the Year in 2000 and the UPI National Coach of the Year in 1995.
Hamilton has also been named the ACC Coach of the Year three times (2009, 2012 and 2020) and the Big East Coach of the Year twice (1995 and 1999). He is the only coach in college basketball to win the Coach of the Year Award in those two top conferences multiple times.
In addition to successfully serving as the head coach at Florida State, Hamilton is the third winningest coach in the history of the University of Miami program. He began his head-coaching career at Oklahoma State University.
Under Hamilton’s leadership, Miami became one of the nation’s top programs, advancing to postseason play five times in his final six seasons with three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Miami’s winning records in his final six seasons resulted in the Hurricanes joining Syracuse and Connecticut as the only Big East schools to have an overall winning record in conference play from 1995-2000. The Hurricanes’ 48-22 Big East mark over his last four seasons tied Connecticut for the best conference record over that period.
Hamilton went to Miami from Oklahoma State where he spent four years rebuilding the Cowboys’ program. He led them to consecutive appearances in the NIT, the first back-to-back postseason appearances for OSU since the 1953 and 1954 seasons.
Prior to his tenure at Oklahoma State, Hamilton was on the staff at the University of Kentucky where he spent 12 seasons with one of the top programs in the country. From 1974-80, he served as an assistant coach, and in 1980 he was named the first associate head coach in Kentucky basketball history. During his 12 seasons at Kentucky, the Wildcats registered a 296-83 (.781) record, won eight SEC regular season championships, two SEC tournament titles, went to three Final Fours and won the national title in 1978.
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was born, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history. Nearly 200,000 people visit the Hall of Fame museum each year to learn about the game. Best known for its annual marquee enshrinement ceremony honoring the game’s elite, the Hall of Fame also operates over 70 high school and collegiate competitions annually throughout the country and abroad.
For more information on the Basketball Hall of Fame organization, its museum and events, visit www.hoophall.com.