John Calipari, Bruce Pearl Top Naismith Men’s College COTY Late-Season Watch List

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 18, 2022

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State, Monday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Kentucky's John Calipari headlines the Naismith College Coach of the Year late-season watch list released Friday.

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Naismith Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List: <br><br>Mark Adams<br>John Calipari<br>Ed Cooley<br>Scott Drew<br>Mark Few<br>Steve Forbes<br>Greg Gard<br>Jeff Linder<br>Tommy Lloyd<br>Bob McKillop<br>Matt McMahon<br>Bruce Pearl<br>Kelvin Sampson<br>Shaka Smart<br>Brad Underwood

Gonzaga's Mark Few won the award last season after leading his team to a perfect regular season before eventually losing in the NCAA finals. It was his second win after also earning Coach of the Year honors in 2017.

With the team back in the mix as a title contender in 2021-22, the Bulldogs coach is once again a contender for the national award.

The favorite for the award could be Few's former assistant, Tommy Lloyd, in his first season leading Arizona.

The Wildcats moved on from Sean Miller after missing last year's NCAA tournament, replacing him with a former Gonzaga assistant with no head coaching experience. It proved to be a smart call as Lloyd has the team up to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll with a 23-2 record on the season. 

With recent wins over UCLA and USC, Arizona could be a No. 1 seed in March Madness.

Bruce Pearl is another name to watch after putting Auburn in the title picture one year after finishing 13-14. The Tigers added potential No. 1 NBA draft pick Jabari Smith and top transfer Walker Kessler, but Pearl has helped put it all together.

Pearl already earned himself a huge extension this season and is looking to end the year with some trophies.

Calipari also has his team near the top of the rankings with Kentucky now 21-5, winning 10 of its last 12. The veteran coach is relying on more transfers than usual this year with former West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe leading the way, but the method has worked out for the Wildcats. 

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has won the Coach of the Year award three times in his career, although none have come since 2000. In his final year before retiring, the all-time great coach was left out of consideration for the honor.

The four finalists for this award will be announced on March 23, with the winner named on April 3 ahead of the April 4 national championship game.