After nine seasons as a head coach, John Pelphrey began a second stint as a Florida assistant in 2011. He previously served as an assistant coach with the Gators for six seasons from 1996-2002 and helped the team to a 124-65 record with a then-school record four straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Pelphrey was instrumental in the Gators advancing to their first-ever national championship game in 2000, following a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1999. In his first season back in Gainesville, the Gators posted a 26-11 record and earned a trip to the Elite Eight.
“Having John back will be a great addition to our program,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan when Pelphrey was hired on April 12, 2011. “Obviously, he has a level of familiarity with me and with the University of Florida, which makes this a great fit. John’s a great coach, he’s a great friend and has a love for Florida, and we’re excited to bring him back.”
Following his initial stay at Florida, the Paintsville, Ky., native went on to serve as head coach at South Alabama for five seasons from 2002-2007 and Arkansas for four seasons from 2007-11, earning two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Pelphrey holds a career 149-122 record (.550) as head coach, including an 80-63 mark (.559) at South Alabama and a record of 69-59 (.539) at Arkansas.
In 2005-06, Pelphrey guided the South Alabama Jaguars to a Sun Belt championship and the conference tournament title, leading to a spot in the NCAA Tournament, where South Alabama fell to Florida on the way to the Gators’ first national championship. Pelphrey earned Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honors that season as his team led the league in scoring margin and three-point defense and finished second in steals and scoring defense. South Alabama also improved its offensive output by 11 points over the previous season and finished 24-7.
In his final season at South Alabama, Pelphrey guided the Jaguars to a 20-12 mark (13-5 Sun Belt) and an appearance in the NIT, where the team fell at Syracuse in the opening round.
In 2007, Pelphrey was tabbed to lead the Arkansas program and responded by leading the team to 23 wins in 2007-08, the best total by a first-year coach in the school’s history, while advancing to the SEC Tournament final and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks’ win against No. 24 Indiana in the big dance was their first since 1999. That squad finished with a 23-12 record and reached as high as No. 18 in the national polls and posted a 6-2 record against ranked opponents. Those 23 wins were the most at Arkansas since 1999.
Though Pelphrey will not be on the Arkansas bench this season, he was instrumental in assembling the Razorbacks’ 2011 recruiting class that rates in the top five nationally.
Prior to Pelphrey’s first stint as a Florida assistant, he spent two seasons on Donovan’s staff at Marshall, where the Thundering Herd went 18-9 in 1995 and 17-11 in 1996 after going 9-18 the year before they arrived. Prior to that, Pelphrey coached under Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State in 1994, where the Cowboys went 24-10 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Pelphrey began his coaching career following one season playing professionally in France and Spain.
He played two years under Sutton and three under Rick Pitino at Kentucky. Inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame in 2005 and named the Wildcats' Student-Athlete of the Year in 1989, his jersey number (No. 34) was retired in 1992. During his Kentucky career, he started 90 of 114 games and finished with a career scoring average of 11.0 points.
Named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky as a senior at Paintsville High School in 1987, he scored 2,477 points and grabbed 1,316 rebounds for his career.
Pelphrey is married to the former Tracy Lyon and they have a son, Jaxson Hamilton and a daughter, Grace Donovan.