John Robic will enter his seventh season with the Kentucky basketball program in 2015-16, but he is a long-time associate of UK head coach John Calipari.
Beginning with their first season together at UMass in 1988-89, where Robic was an assistant under Calipari, the two are entering their 18th season together. It seems as if the Calipari-Robic duo is a proven combination for thrilling basketball seasons.
Similar to those magical years he assisted in at UMass in the 1990s, Robic helped lead Memphis to the program’s most storied era in school history in four seasons at Memphis (2006-09), as well as helping return Kentucky back among the nation’s elite since his arrival in Lexington.
1987-88: Kansas, graduate assistant
1989-99: UMass, assistant coach
2000-05: Youngstown State, head coach
2006-09: Memphis, assistant coach
2010-present: Kentucky, assistant coach
Robic helped the Wildcats post a 35-3 mark in his inaugural season at Kentucky. The Cats made an appearance in the 2010 Elite Eight while claiming SEC regular season and tournament championships along the way.
He helped UK make history when five Wildcats were drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. In 2011, Kentucky returned to the Final Four for the first time since 1998, and four more players were taken in the NBA Draft.
During his third season at UK, the Wildcats tied an NCAA record (one that he and Coach Cal set in 2008 at Memphis) with 38 victories en route to the program’s eighth national championship. Anthony Davis was tabbed the National Player of the Year by several outlets and went on to become the second No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick in three seasons for UK. Kentucky continued to make history when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was chosen No. 2 overall to become the first teammates to go 1-2 in Draft history. The duo led a record-breaking six selections in the same draft year.
Despite missing the final nine game of his freshman season, Nerlens Noel became Kentucky’s seventh top-10 selection during the 2013 NBA Draft. Classmate Archie Goodwin was taken in the opening round and became UK’s 17th selection in four seasons.
Robic then helped direct Kentucky back to the national title game in 2014 in one of the most memorable runs in NCAA Tournament history. UK was the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win four straight games by five points or fewer in the same NCAA Tournament. The Cats were also the first team to defeat three of the previous season’s Final Four participants in one tournament, and did so starting five freshmen.
In 2015, with a number of returners and a stellar recruiting class featuring four five-star prospects, the Cats implemented a platoon system to allow each of their nine McDonald’s All-Americans to “eat.” The result was an historic season that saw UK become the first team in college basketball history to begin a season 38-0, and the Cats reached their fourth Final Four in the last five years.
His last four years at Memphis, the Tigers won an NCAA record 137 games (137-14 record) while advancing to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Elite Eights, the 2008 NCAA title game, and sweeping the 2006-09 Conference USA regular-season and tournament crowns. Memphis spent each week of the last four years in the national polls.
In 2007-08, Robic was a part of the Tigers’ “Dream Season,” which lasted through the NCAA championship game. Memphis set an NCAA record for victories with 38 wins (38-2 mark) and held down the No. 1 spot in both national polls for a school-record five straight weeks during the season.
Before 2005-06, Robic directed the Youngstown State program from 1999-2005.
Prior to its move to the Horizon League, Youngstown State put together a tremendous year in the Mid-Con in 2000-01, Robic’s second year at the helm. The Penguins posted a 19-11 overall mark and an 11-5 Mid-Con record. The 19 overall wins were the second most in 16 seasons, and the 11 league victories tied the school record for most conference wins.
Before taking over at Youngstown State, Robic served as an assistant for 11 years at UMass for both Calipari and Bruiser Flint.
After a 10-18 mark his first season on staff, Robic helped lead the Minutemen to nine consecutive winning campaigns.
From 1990-96, the Minutemen averaged 26 wins per year and had six straight 20-win seasons, including two 30-victory campaigns. UMass made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 1992, Elite Eight in 1995 and Final Four in 1996. It was UMass’ first appearance on college basketball’s largest stage.
After Calipari moved on to the NBA, Robic remained at UMass and was elevated to the associate head coach post under Flint from 1997-99. During his tenure at UMass, the Minutemen posted a 247-111 overall record (.690 winning percentage) and earned nine postseason tournament bids (seven NCAA, two NIT).
A graduate of North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Robic attended Walsh College in Canton, Ohio, before transferring to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he earned his bachelor of arts in speech communication and physical education in 1986.
At Denison, Robic garnered Division III All-America accolades as a senior and was a two-time all-conference performer. He was one of 10 former players to be named to the 10th Anniversary All-Decade Team in the league in 1994. In the fall of 2006, he was inducted into the Denison Athletic Hall of Fame. Robic was inducted into the North Hills High School Hall of Fame in 2004.
Robic and his wife, Heidi, have three daughters, Hayley, Alli and Sophie.