What former players, coaches and those who know him are saying about Lefty Driesell’s entering the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Quotes were compiled by the University of Maryland sports department:
Brad Davis (Maryland, 1974-77)
"This honor is well deserved and I am extremely happy for Lefty. He had a big personality, was an excellent recruiter and he helped put Maryland basketball on the map. I am excited to see Lefty inducted into the Hall of Fame with such prestigious company."
Len Elmore (Maryland, 1971-1974)
“I’ve always believed Lefty has belonged in the Hall of Fame. He’s won so many games at so many different places, he could have been selected not only as a coach, but also as a contributor. He did so many great things in marketing the game and opened up so many doors for many African Americans players and coaches like myself. He hired the first African American assistant coach in the ACC in George Raveling. And on my team, there were three African American starters at the time. Lefty was a trailblazer and an innovator; this is very well deserved. Lefty taught us so much and his messages and his lessons still stay with us to this day. It’s a glorious day, special moment and we’re so happy for Lefty.”
Damon Evans (Executive Director of Athletics)
“On behalf of the Maryland Athletics Department, we are thrilled that Lefty has received this well-deserved honor. I know how much he’s meant to college basketball and the University of Maryland. Lefty was a winner every step of the way; his accomplishments speak for themselves. His strong and personal connection with our fans and the unique bond they created is very special. We look forward to sharing in this celebration with Lefty, and are extremely proud of him."
Keith Gatlin (Maryland, 1983-86)
“It was an honor to play for Coach Driesell, and this is well overdue for him to be named to the Hall of Fame. I learned so much from him both on and off the court, and this means a lot for both Maryland and the game of basketball. I’m really happy for coach and his family.”
Joe Harrington (Maryland 1965-67, 1969-79 Maryland assistant coach)
"Coach's visions and goals for Maryland basketball became a reality, what a blessing for the university, area sports and all college basketball fans! Who will ever forget the 70's when Coach Driesell said Maryland was going to be the UCLA of the East and walking through Cole Field House tunnel to ‘Hail to the Chief’ tune and flash that pregame left handed victory sign!”
Johnny Holliday (Maryland Sports Radio Network, 1979-present)
“When I started calling Maryland’s games in 1979, Lefty Driesell was kind of a John Wayne character in my eyes. I was in awe of doing the games for this guy because of his reputation and what he had done at Maryland. The more I got to know him and the more I got to do the games with him, I realized what a terrific coach we had and what an outstanding individual he was. I think this honor is long overdue, but I’m so happy that Lefty will now be recognized in his rightful place among the greats of the game of basketball. He put Maryland basketball on the map and brought so much to this area. I’m thrilled to have worked alongside him.”
Albert King (Maryland, 1977-81)
“I’m so happy for Lefty and his family. The fact that he is now going into the Hall of Fame makes all the work and time put into the game that much better. Coach really taught you, especially when you get older and look back, about being a better person. He taught you how treat people, how to dress the right way, how to present yourself the right way; those were things I never thought about until I got older. As I’ve gotten older I’ve really appreciated those life lessons.”
John Lucas (Maryland, 1972-76)
"This is long overdue for Lefty. He was a great innovator of the game in the early 70 and 80s. Lefty has always been solidified with his former players as a Hall of Famer. Now that he is officially a member of the Hall of Fame, this is just a wonderful day for Lefty and Maryland basketball."
Tony Massenburg (Maryland, 1986-90)
"This is long overdue considering everything that he accomplished in the game of college basketball. Lefty was one of the all-time greatest recruiters. He was one of the most charismatic personalities in college basketball. His name is synonymous with the University of Maryland. When you talked about the school or basketball program - you would immediately think of Lefty. I could go on and on about Lefty. It is great to have Lefty as a member of the Hall of Fame."
National College Basketball Hall of Famer Tom McMillen (Maryland 1971-74)
"Lefty is the greatest turnaround coach in college basketball history. He took four struggling programs and made them all winners. It is a very well-deserved honor for Lefty to be in the Hall of Fame."
Steve Sheppard (Maryland, 1974-1977)
“Lefty was a heck of a character. He’s a very enthusiastic guy and he really made sure you worked hard. One thing I can say is those stands were full every game when I was there, Lefty just brought so much excitement. He deserves this honor and all the accolades he has received. Lefty made Maryland.”
Mark Turgeon (Maryland head coach 2011-present)
“We’re all thrilled and excited the day has come that Lefty Driesell has joined the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. His impact on the game of college basketball is one of the reasons why the game has grown and become so popular today. Lefty laid the foundation in places here like Maryland by being innovative and creative. To win 786 games is simply a remarkable accomplishment, it’s a testament to the outstanding coach that Lefty is. I’ve always admired his competitive spirit and I’m so happy for Lefty to finally be recognized as the Hall of Famer he is.”
Naismith Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams (Maryland head coach, 1989-2011)
“Lefty was instrumental in moving Maryland into the modern era of basketball. He arrived in 1970 and marketed the program very well. Lefty created Midnight Madness and was a great innovator.”