Purdue's Matt Painter on Gene Keady's HOF selection: 'It just warms your heart that he's been recognized for his career'

On3 imageby:Mike Carmin04/02/23

HOUSTON – When Gene Keady was notified of his selection to the Naismith Hall of Fame, the first person he told was his wife, Kathleen.

Next on the list was current Purdue coach Matt Painter.  

And the smile on Painter’s face remains bursting with pride about the news of his former coach and mentor.

“Fabulous,” Painter said Sunday following the Naismith Awards brunch in downtown Houston. “For him, it just warms your heart that he’s been recognized for his career.”

It’s a career that is highlighted by his long run with the Boilermakers but also included stops at the high school and junior college levels. Keady also was an assistant at Arkansas and the head coach at Western Kentucky before arriving in West Lafayette to spend the next 25 seasons and become the program’s all-time winningest coach.

“When guys have mixed careers … he was a high school coach, he was a junior college coach, and he was at Arkansas, Western Kentucky. A lot of people forget as an assistant, Arkansas went to the Final Four,” Painter said.

“What he did at Purdue speaks for itself, but just more than anything, I’m happy for him and very thankful that the Hall of Fame realized and recognized him and put him in with an unbelievable class.”

Keady was seated next to NBA great Dirk Nowitzki during Saturday’s press conference but shared the stage with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Dwyane Wade, all of whom enjoyed long and successful careers at the professional level.

“To see him in a press conference next to Tony Parker and Dwayne Wade and Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki, it’s good that he got a chance to walk with the Kings because he deserves it,” Painter said.

Keady won 550 games during his career, including 512 at Purdue, and was selected National Coach of the Year six times, won six Big Ten regular-season championships, and was named the conference’s coach of the year on seven different occasions.

The Boilermakers made 17 appearances in the NCAA tournament.

“I think when you coach at all different levels, you get a feel of what you need to do to motivate your players and how they should cherish their education and their families and be part of a team,” Keady said.

The legendary Clark Kellogg finished out his Ohio State career when Keady started his tenure with the Boilermakers. Kellogg, who works for CBS and Westwood One radio as an analyst during the college basketball season, saw the ingredients Keady was putting together.

“After you get out of it and I stepped into broadcasting, you could see the consistency of culture and style,” Kellogg said. “Who we are, how we’re going to play, and how we’re going to win. That, to me, is always the mark of a really good coach. They can adjust, but they also have standards that they establish and hold their teams accountable to, and then they recruit in line with that. That’s the alignment that’s needed to build long-term success.”

The remainder of the Class 2023 features Gene Bess, David Hixon, Gregg Popovich, Becky Hammon, Gary Blair, Jim Valvano, and the 1976 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team. They’ll be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., on August 11-12.

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