Few named Naismith men’s Coach of the Year semifinalist

Gonzaga’s Mark Few was named a semifinalist for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award Monday.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the semifinalists, 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.

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. While 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. Few is also hoping to win his second Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award at Gonzaga after previously winning in 2017.

Few extended his own conference record, capturing his 13th West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor recently. He receives the honor for the third straight season, after leading Gonzaga to a 29-2 record thus far, which marks their 12th straight season with at least 25 wins. The Bulldogs are one victory from reaching 30 wins for the fifth time in program history. It would be the third straight 30-win season, and all five would have come in the last seven years.

Few has also led GU to its seventh straight WCC regular season title. The top-ranked Zags returned to No. 1 poll twice this season, the third and fourth times in program history.

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 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 naismithtrophy.com/vote 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, 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.

No. 1/1 Gonzaga (29-2) opens the 2019 West Coast Conference tournament in the semifinals against eighth-seeded Pepperdine tonight at 6.

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

Roy Williams
North Carolina

Mike Young