News and Tribune


July 3, 2012

HUNTER: Calipari’s got it figured out

HENRYVILLE — John Calipari becoming the head coach at the University of Kentucky couldn't have put two entities together that were more made for each other than those two.  

UK and Coach Cal are a match made in heaven. Whether you like it or not, UK is one of the — if not the — elite basketball schools in the country with fans that Cal calls “crazy.” And Coach Cal is not afraid to sell UK for what it is known for — a basketball school.

With UK's Anthony Davis going No. 1 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going No. 2, Coach Cal is lord over the NBA draft. In his three years at UK, he has sent 11 players out the door in the first round of the NBA draft and had two top picks. The success he has had, from an Elite Eight to a Final Four to the 2012 National Championship, all the while using one-and-done players, is exactly what UK fans want and is exactly what someone who is willing can do to take advantage of the current rules.

Do I think Coach Cal is developing these guys into NBA players? He isn't hurting, but what I do believe is that the recruiting that he does makes him the best in the college game. He isn't selling academics, academics, academics, then basketball. He is selling them both equally, and maybe with more of an emphasis on basketball. 

And it is working.

Let's be honest. Coach Cal is probably doing nothing wrong when it comes to recruiting (we can never know about anyone). But what he does is promise the top high school picks that they will go pro, and really, you cannot argue with his success rate on the court or in getting the players to where they want to go. I don't like how he does things sometimes (call me old school on this one) but he isn't doing anything wrong. He has just circumvented the NCAA's belief that college is about academics for top athletes. 

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