A crowd of well-wishers braved the showers under a tent outside the University of Kentucky’s new Wildcat Coal Lodge earlier today to witness the unveiling of a statue of former men’s basketball coach Joe B. Hall.
The Kentucky native succeeded basketball icon Adolph Rupp to lead the Wildcats for 13 seasons. In his introduction of the guest of honor current coach John Calipari reminded the crowd that there are few in the coaching profession that flourish by taking the reins from other legends like John Wooden, Bear Bryant, or Vince Lombardi. But Hall proved he was up to the challenge.
“No one that followed those other coaches won championships…no one. There’s one guy, and, we are here with him today,” he said. “Coach Hall, three Final Fours, the National Title…what he did here to get this thing right…phenomenal.”
Hall accepted the honor with his usual self-deprecating humor.
“No one has a speech for an unveiling of a statue of them. The pigeons will appreciate it.”
Missouri artist J. Brett Grill created the 400-pound bronze sculpture.
“I wanted to have a sense of anticipation in the pose. He’s sort of on the edge of his seat kind and moving forward,” says Grill. “I think that’s one of the coach’s legacies…this idea that he’s moving the program forward after Coach Rupp. The program didn’t die with him. I wanted to get the sense of him kind of leaning forward and pushing the program to where it is today.”
Gill used photographs of Hall taken from 1972 to 1985, the period of time when he coached the Wildcats to an overall record of 297-100 and the 1978 NCAA championship.