There is now a possibility that Kansas coach Bill Self could be named into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in the same year he wins a national title.
On Saturday in New Orleans, at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities, the finalists were unveiled for this year’s Hall of Fame class. Self is one of the big names on the list, and this news came before No.3 Kansas got a critical 67-65 road win over fourth-ranked Baylor. So Self can dare to dream while he navigates his team to another No. 1 seed. He is one win away from finishing atop the Big 12 standings for the 13th straight season. Self eclipsed the 400-win mark for his career this season and has won 83 percent of his games.
In terms of college hoops nominees getting first-time consideration, four names, aside from Self, stand out on the Hall’s list: Villanova legend Rollie Massimino, UConn women’s great Rebecca Lobo, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and former Michigan culture icon Chris Webber.
Now, Webber’s up for inclusion in good part because of his pro career, but for many, Webber and the Fab Five ignited a revolution of culture in college basketball. Though he and the Wolverines never won a title, they did reach two straight Final Fours (which have been vacated by the NCAA). Webber was one of the most multi-faceted NBA players of his generation, having averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a pro. In two seasons at Michigan, Webber averaged 17.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Villanova has achieved two of the most memorable championships in college basketball history. With the image of Kris Jenkins’ winning shot still fresh in the mind of fans all over the country, it’s important to remember that Massimino guided eighth-seeded Nova to an all-time upset win over mighty Georgetown in 1985. That was in the throes of the Big East’s heyday. Massimino, 82, still coaches. He’s at Keiser University, an NAIA school in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Mulkey, who has turned Baylor into a modern women’s hoops blueblood, has won 84 percent of her games, is closing in on 500 career wins and a two-time national champion as coach. And Lobo, one of the most famous women’s basketball players ever, was the centerpiece on the first great UConn women’s team. The 1994-95 Huskies went 35-0 and won the school’s first national title in basketball, in Lobo’s senior season.
Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is among the finalists again.
Other first-time finalists:
There is a 24-person panel that votes on the honor; to clear entry, nominees must earn at least 18 votes. The Hall of Fame makes its annual announcement at the Final Four in regard to who gets in. This year’s announcement will happen on Monday, April 3.