John Castellani

John Castellani (1926-2021)

Teams coached: Seattle Redhawks, Minneapolis Lakers
Seattle record: 45-9 (.833)
Overall record^: 45-9 (.833)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0  (Runner-up in 1958)
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  1  (1958)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  1  (1958)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  1  (1958)
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  1  (1957)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1959-1960 Minneapolis Lakers
1956-1958 Seattle
1951-1956 Notre Dame (asst)

John Castellani Facts

  • John Louis Castellani
  • Born August 23, 1926
  • Died May 11, 2021
  • Hometown: New Britain, Connecticut
  • Alma Mater: University of Notre Dame (BA, 1951) / Marquette University (JD, 1963)
  • Started his career at alma mater Notre Dame, coaching the freshman for two years and then serving as an assistant for three under John Jordan
  • Hired in 1956 at just 30 years old to be the head coach at Seattle, never having visited the campus before taking the job
    • Led the (then-Chieftans) program for just two seasons, but had incredible success coaching future HOFer Elgin Baylor
    • His team reached the NIT in 1957 and then finished as NCAA Tournament Runner-up in 1958 (lost to Kentucky)
    • NCAA violations came to light after the 1958 NCAAT, ultimately leading to Castellani’s resignation in April of that year
  • Had one more coaching job, leading the Minneapolis Lakers for half of the 1959-60 season; had the chance to coach Baylor once again
    • Went 11-25 during his time at the helm; did not coach again after this experience
  • Obtained his law degree from Marquette in 1963 and spent the next 55 years as a practicing attorney in Milwaukee
  • Retired in 2018 and moved back to New Britain, CT; passed away in May 2021 at the age of 94

John Castellani Coaching Tree

  • Elgin Baylor (New Orleans Jazz)
  • Vince Cazzetta (Pittsburgh Pipers, Seattle)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only