Men's Basketball

 
What They Are Saying About Jack Leaman

Jack Leaman was a very special man to many.

Jack Leaman was a very special man to many.

Jack Leaman was a friend and mentor to many. Here are some testimonials from people he had great relationships with.

John Calipari
UMass Head Coach 1988-96
Current Memphis Head Coach

"There is no one in the history of the program that is more deserving to have their name on that court than Jack Leaman. He did more for more people and for more coaches. He was the backbone of the team when I was there, was the voice behind the scenes that could tell you the truth and say the right things, and had an expertise in coaching, that could truly help keep things together. And obviously was a mentor to me during my time there when I was a young coach. I walked in there at 28, 29 trying to take over a division I program that was struggling at the time to try to bring it back to where Jack had it. We were able to do that with his help. And the thing that made it unique was that in most cases the former coach does not want you to succeed. That wasn't the case with Jack, that's why we became so close and I realized that early. Jack was unique, was different - he really wanted us to do well.

"The thing that Jack and I had while I was coaching was that he wanted us to all shine and he wanted to truly stay in the background. He didn't want anyone to feel like he was intruding, so if he wanted to talk to me about basketball things, he would just say, "Would you like to go get a cup of coffee?" That meant he had something on his mind about how we were playing or how someone was playing on our team. So we would sit down for a cup of coffee.

"He would wait for me to say "Well, do you have anything for me?" and then he would just go for the next half hour and told me what was on his mind. It was always great stuff, always good nuggets and I continued that in the NBA and I continued it when I was in Memphis.

"I really miss him and the fact that I had a mentor - someone that I knew cared about me, what I was doing and was keeping track. I go back to the fact that there are not many coaches that retire and then want the next coach to do well. It just shows the character of the man and the heart of this man; he truly was one of the most unique human beings I have ever been around in my life."

Rick Pitino
Played For Leaman in 1972-74
Current Louisville Head Coach

"Naming the court for Jack is much deserved. There is no amount of money I would not contribute to see this happen, because he was such a special man in my life. It's not only what he taught me on how to fight through problems and how to handle adversity, but my first head coaching job at 24 years of age would not have happened if it had not been for Jack Leaman.

"Jack is responsible for getting me that job, and it always is someone that opens up the door for you. I was a young coach that John Simpson had to take a chance on because Coach Leaman was a basketball player at BU at the same time as John, and had great respect for him. Jack said to hire me and John took a shot on me. That was a starting point for my career, so I owe him so much in changing my life as a person and giving me a great way to start out my coaching career."

James "Bruiser" Flint
UMass Head Coach 1996-2001
Current Drexel Head Coach

"I think it's great that we are able to honor Jack like this. I think there was no one in my history there that did more for the people at the University, who cared more about the people at the University than Jack did. He was like a link between the past and the present.

"Anyone associated with basketball knew to get in touch with Jack Leaman and he was the person that could take care of what you needed. He would talk to you about the University and about the people around the University. I'm glad they are putting this court down in his memory so he will never be forgotten. He is a person that I think deserves to have these memories because he cared so much about the University.

"He was always a sounding board for me when I needed to talk. Jack is probably one of the best people I have ever met in my life, during the good and bad times, who anyone could talk to. I knew I could always talk to him and he was not going to tell me what I wanted to hear, but rather what I needed to hear. I appreciated that. The one thing you knew about Jack was that he cared about you and he wanted the best for you. He was going to tell you the things that were going to help you out. He was definitely a father figure to me when I was up there.

"One of the things that Jack used to get on me about was that he would say, 'Look, this is what you need for your guards, we are having a little problem with our guard play.'

"Jack liked to go to lunch so he took me to lunch, he drew up a couple things and said you run this thing and your guards will get a little better. Here are a couple drills to help them with it. So he said "I'm telling you, but I'm not going to say anything else to you about it." We did the drills, we started working with the guards and about a month later our guard play really, really improved.

"Jack was in practice one day and he saw us working on it. I just looked up at him and he had that big Kool-Aid smile on his face and was pretty much saying "see." That is the kind of thing that made Jack so special because he didn't come down to me after he told me and remind me a thousand times. He would let you do with the advice he gave you what you wanted to do with it. He knew he was saying the right things and doing the right things for you, but he always had those great smiles."

Al Skinner
Played for Leaman in 1972-74
Current Boston College Head Coach

"We'll I'm really excited for Jack and Rita (Leaman) and the recognition. Even though Jack was a BU grad, he bled UMass maroon and that's what he was all about. He did whatever he could to help the program, to help the university.

"He's a tremendous ambassador and obviously he had a lot of success as a coach there. If I can at all emulate some of the things that he did as a coach, then I have a chance to be successful. I'm happy for his family and happy for the University. This recognition shows just exactly how Jack represented the University with class and dignity. Jack will now be recognized every night and this will remind people of the history of the University of Massachusetts basketball."

Ray Ellerbrook
UMass Hall of Fame Member
Played for Leaman in 1968-70

"To me, Jack Leaman was more than a basketball coach. Certainly he had an exceptional record as a coach, had many great teams and recruited many outstanding players to come to the University. But it was his genuine concern for his players as individuals that sets him apart. His players meant the world to him, on and off the court during their playing days as well as after graduation.

"Personally, I enjoyed an extremely close relationship with Coach for 38 years! I came to the University in 1966, Coach's first year taking over the varsity. I never left the area after graduation and was able to develop a close relationship with him over those many years. With Coach there were no pretenses. He was never about being a big time basketball coach who was unapproachable. Far from it! His popularity far exceeded the UMass campus. No matter where he went everyone seemed to know and like Jack Leaman. He had a magnetic personality that attracted people from every walk of life.

"Naming the court in the Mullins Center in his honor is absolutely the right thing to do. I applaud the Athletic Department for getting this done and I am extremely pleased that that I will have a chance to be a part of it. Memorializing Coach in this way is a tremendous tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the University."

Charlie Peters
Played for Leaman in 1971-73

"Jack was more than a coach. He was a mentor to those who played for him. When we were playing, none of us realized that the things he taught us would be so valuable later in life. Jack taught teamwork, hard work, dedication and communication among other things. All of these helped his players to succeed after graduation. It was an honor to play for him."

John Widdison
Class of 1961-62

"The dedication is richly deserved. Jack was a mentor, a friend and a confidant to a young man making the transition to full-fledged adult life in 1962. He showed me how to work hard to become a successful coach, to accept what life brings, to deal with adversity and learn from experience. I will never forget his advice and the way he passed it along. It was a pleasure to play under his guiding hand, but more importantly to prosper as an individual because of his influence."

Michael Lynch
Boston University
Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics

"We are proud of all of Jack's accomplishments and see this honor as fitting for all of his contributions to college basketball. Our best goes out to his family at this moment of great pride."

 

 

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