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Bo Ryan named finalist for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

For the first time, Bo Ryan is a finalist for the basketball hall of fame.

Harry How/Getty Images

Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan is a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The hall announced 12 finalists for 2015 election on Saturday. Ryan joins four other coaches up for induction: Kentucky's John Calipari, long-time NBA head coach Bill Fitch, all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes and all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews.

The Class of 2015 will be announced April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis before the NCAA tournament championship game. Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election. The 2015 enshrinement will be held at the hall in Springfield, Mass., Sept. 10-11.

"I'm extremely humbled and honored just to be mentioned with the other names on the nominee list," Ryan said in a release from the team. "The Hall of Fame holds so many revered legends of basketball and many of the individuals who originally sparked my love for the game."

Interestingly enough, the first mention of Ryan mentions nothing about the Badgers; instead, it reads "four-time Division III national champion coach." Indeed, Ryan's tenure at UW-Platteville is remarkable. Aside from the D-III titles in 1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999, Ryan posted an .820 winning percentage (352-76) and his teams won eight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships.

In 2007, Platteville named its basketball court at Williams Fieldhouse "Bo Ryan Court."

After Platteville, Ryan spend 1999-2001 at UW-Milwaukee. The Panthers had their first back-to-back winning seasons in almost a decade.

"When I first planted my coaching roots years ago at the junior high level, I did so to be a teacher and help kids like my father did so selflessly," Ryan said. "I never had intentions or even thoughts of being on Hall of Fame lists, but it's quite an honor and I'm grateful to all of the players and coaches who have helped along the way.

"I have been blessed to work at some prestigious institutions that were willing to take a chance on me. I am thankful to so many individuals who granted me opportunities and trusted in me."

With that impressive resume, Ryan came to Madison in 2001. He enters the weekend 343-123 at Wisconsin, a .736 winning percentage that covers the 2013-14 Final Four run, three Big Ten regular season championships (2002, 2003, 2008) and two Big Ten tournament championships (2004, 2008). He also won Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (2002, 2003 and 2013) and the Clair Bee Coach of the Year award in 2007.

No. 5 Wisconsin (22-2, 10-1 Big Ten) hosts Illinois Sunday at noon on CBS.

"The finalists for the Class of 2015 are a group of very distinguished individuals who have each made a unique impact on the game of basketball," said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "To be recognized as a Finalist is a great achievement in and of itself and each of the Finalists recognized today should be very proud. Although the process of selecting the final class members of 2015 will be a difficult task, we look forward to making the announcement at the Final Four in April."

Below is the full list of 2015 hall of fame finalists:

North American Committee Finalists:

Dick Bavetta (Referee)

John Calipari (Coach)

Bill Fitch (Coach)

Tim Hardaway (Player)

Spencer Haywood (Player)

Robert Hughes (Coach)

Kevin Johnson (Player)

Dikembe Mutombo (Player)

Bo Ryan (Coach)

Jo Jo White (Player)

Women's Committee Finalists:

Leta Andrews (Coach)

Lisa Leslie (Player)