Joe B. Hall, who led Kentucky to national title, 3 Final Fours, dies at 93

Legendary Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall died on Saturday at the age of 93, the school said.

Hall coached the Wildcats from 1972 to 1985 after the retirement of longtime coach Adolph Rupp, who Hall briefly played for and later worked under as an assistant. During his head-coaching tenure, Hall led the program to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three trips to the Final Four, and the 1978 national championship title. He compiled a 297-100 record at Kentucky before retiring in March of 1985 at the age of 56.

“Coach Hall made it the job it is today with his hard work, his ingenuity and his great basketball coaching.” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a tweet.

“Coach Hall always met me with a smile, including two days ago when I went to see him and hold his hand. He understood everything that was said, and as I prayed for him, he squeezed my hand tight.”

The Cynthiana, Ky., native played one year of varsity basketball at Kentucky (1948-49), winning a national championship, before graduating from Sewanee and touring with the Harlem Globetrotters. Hall served as a head coach at Regis University and Central Missouri State before returning to the Wildcats in 1965 to work on Rupp’s staff. He finished his coaching career with a 373-156 record.

On Nov. 30, Hall turned 93 and was visited by Calipari at the nursing home where he lived. In a social media post, Calipari shared a picture with Hall and called the retired coach “my mentor and my friend.”

What is Hall’s legacy at Kentucky?

Kyle Tucker, Kentucky beat writer: He is the man who proved the program was built to last, that it could still be great without Rupp.

Even more importantly, Hall is the man who truly integrated Kentucky basketball. He hired the program’s first Black assistant coach and immediately filled his roster with Black players, which Rupp never did.

What was it like getting to know Hall?

Tucker: A privilege. Hall might’ve been serious and stern as a coach, but he was affable, kind and a hilarious, spectacular storyteller in retirement. Like the time he told me about friend-turned-rival Bob Knight: “I wouldn’t piss up his ass if his bowels were on fire.” RIP, Joe.

(Photo: Courtesy of UK Athletics)


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