NEW YORK >> Kentucky coach John Calipari, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and four-time Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo are among the finalists for this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class.
Former NBA stars Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood and Jo Jo White also were chosen as finalists Saturday. They join former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, longtime referee Dick Bavetta, and two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch among the class of 2015 hopefuls.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and high school coaches Robert Hughes and Lita Andrews rounded out the 12 finalists.
The class will be announced at an April 6 press conference before the NCAA championship game, when Calipari’s team might be playing. The top-ranked Wildcats were 24-0 entering their game Saturday against South Carolina and hoping to give him a second national title.
Johnson was a three-time All-Star point guard with the Phoenix Suns who led the charge to keep his hometown team in Sacramento after moving into politics.
Haywood and White were teammates with the 1968 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal. Haywood went on to star in the ABA before winning an NBA championship with the Lakers, while White was a seven-time All-Star who won two championships with Boston.
Fitch led the Celtics to the 1981 championship and won more than 900 games as an NBA coach. Ryan’s success has come at the college level, winning four Division III championships before finding success with the Badgers.
Leslie was a three-time WNBA MVP and former national player of the year playing at Southern California.
Enshrinement is set for Sept. 10-11 in Springfield, Massachusetts.