Joe B. Hall Sculpture Unveiled
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A 400 lb. bronze sculpture of former UK Coach Joe B. Hall now has been placed outside the new Wildcat Coal Lodge. The work was officially dedicated this morning in front of a crowd of well-wishers.
The Cynthiana 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. 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.”
Getting serious for just a moment, the coach thanked the school for the honor and attributed his success to the passionate fan base known affectionately as the Big Blue Nation.
“It’s unbelievable. The support that a coach gets from you fans…how much that helps in recruiting, how much that helps in persuading the administration to back your program. This is a program of the fans, throughout this state; border to border…are the Kentucky fans.”
The statue was produced over a period of eight months, beginning as a clay model, then was cast in bronze by sculptor J. Brett Grill of Columbia, Missouri.
“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. 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 to capture his subject's essence.
The university says the sculpture is intended to honor Hall and his contributions toward creating Wildcat Lodge.