Tom Izzo awarded major basketball honor

Tom Izzo of the 2016 class of inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame during a news conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Tom Izzo of the 2016 class of inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame during a news conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

ST. LOUIS (WLNS) – Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, just inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has landed another big honor.

Izzo has been selected by the U.S Basketball Writers Association to receive this year’s Dean Smith Award.

The award is given to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coach.

“Tom Izzo represents everything the Dean Smith Award stands for,” USBWA president Ed Graney said. “Coach Izzo’s distinguished career and commitment to excellence represent the standards for which this award is defined, qualities Coach Smith held as paramount in making an impact on the lives of players on and off the court.”

Izzo has been actively involved in supporting Coaches vs. Cancer, Volunteers of America and the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

He also keeps in touch with his former players and has a graduation rate of over 80 percent for players who have completed their eligibility.

“He calls or texts me all the time to see how things are going,” Golden State Warrior All-Star Draymond Green said. “He cares about us as people and helping us grow as human beings. I don’t think you get that kind of relationship with most coaches at other schools.”

Izzo has built Michigan State into one of the most successful basketball programs in the country.

He has led the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA championship, the 2009 national championship game, seven Final Fours, seven Big Ten regular-season titles, five Big Ten tournament championships and 19 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

He’s in his 22nd season at Michigan State, making him the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten Conference.

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