John Calipari is known for two things in the coaching world: attracting the best recruits to come to Kentucky and then putting those same recruits in the NBA. So far, he has had 38 players drafted, 29 in the first round, 21 in the lottery, and 3 were taken first overall, BUT no NBA Championship rings. Sure, it’s out of his control, but why is that?
Well, one of the biggest reasons is that his best players get drafted too high. Others never live up to their full potential. The ones that can actually make a difference go to the worst teams that get lottery picks for a reason. The dysfunction of upper management and coaching can ruin even the best players. It’s hard to make the best of a bad situation when it takes 3 All-stars or perfectly timed injuries to win a championship anymore (nothing against the Raptors, health is an important part of a championship team).
But Coach Cal’s NBA Title woes may be coming to an end as early as next season. As part of the Lakers’ “oh my God, LeBron is older than we realized, we need to win now” initiative, they just traded away 95% of their future for Kentucky’s own Anthony Davis. Love or hate the Lakers, you have to be happy that AD now has the best chance at winning a title since 2012.
In fact, the Lakers are now the favorite to win the World Championship next season.
Many of Calipari’s Kentucky players have tried to win a championship, and some have come close, but all have failed. Boogie Cousins was the closest, but a plethora of injuries crippled his Golden State Warriors. Josh Harrellson was actually on the Miami Heat roster that won the title in 2011. But he did not meet the Heat’s minimum games played threshold to receive title recognition.
Hopefully, this year is the year. The LeBron and AD combo should be good enough to make a deep run in the Western Conference Playoffs, but they need just one more piece to ensure that Calipari finally gets his champion.
For more Kentucky opinions and news, follow us on twitter @soft7sports.
Kentucky is getting exactly what they are paying for from John Calipari. Coach Cal had made it very clear that getting his players to the NBA is his top priority. And he is delivering. Every year he has been at Kentucky, he has had a player selected in the Lottery of the NBA Draft.
So far, Coach Cal has had three players drafted #1 overall and now a total of 21 players taken in the lottery, 29 in the first round and 38 overall. He has had more players taken in the top 14 than some conferences in the same amount of time. And it all started in 2010…
2010– John Wall (1st), Demarcus Cousins (4th), Patrick Patterson (14th)
2011– Enes Kanter (3rd), Brandon Knight (8th)
2012– Anthony Davis (1st), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd)
The Kerry Blackshear Jr. recruiting saga of college basketball recruiting is finally coming to an end. Having just finished his visit in Lexington with Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats, Blackshear is faced with a choice. Does he play at a school where he could be the best player, but get little national recognition? Or, does he go with the coach that has a proven track record of letting his players realize their dream of playing in the NBA?
Calipari hopefully put that question to rest when he ended his recruiting pitch to Blackshear the only way he knew how. By hopping on a private jet en route to Brooklyn and the 2019 NBA Draft. Swaggy Cal is at it again. This is such a baller move to show to a recruit. I really hope he ended it by saying, “…And that’s why you should come to Kentucky. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have three guys about to get drafted and my jet is waiting.”
Hopefully, Blackshear makes his decision soon. To be completely honest, we all are getting a little warn out by the constant media attention and nothing really happening. I know Blackshear is too. For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter @soft7sports and on Facebook.
A team from the Pac 12 that didn’t even make the NIT last season really thought they had a chance to rip John Calipari away from his dream job. According to Kentucky Sports Radio, UCLA thought that Coach Cal’s interest in their head coaching job was completely genuine.
Calipari even had contract negotiations with UCLA. The LA Times reported:
“Among them were a contract that would pay Calipari $45 million over six seasons, a $1.7-million pool for assistant coaches, eight new staff positions, private planes for the use of the team and its coaches, and a monthly catered meal for Calipari’s staff and players. Negotiations progressed to the point that (UCLA’s senior associate athletic director Josh) Rebholz reached out to donors, seeking money to help cover all the new expenditures that Calipari’s hiring would entail, according to people familiar with Calipari’s requests.”
Calipari just trolled an entire university. He asked for less that what he was getting at Kentucky with less team perks and UCLA still could not do it even with the help of donors. Then immediately signed a lifetime deal at Kentucky that pays him $9.2 million a year.
This is exactly what is meant by the phrase “Swaggy Cal”. Make a mockery of the only other school with more national titles all while leveraging the most lucrative deal in NCAA Basketball history. Oh, and leaving UCLA with Mick Cronin.
John Calipari reportedly plans to have an in-house visit with Virginia Tech Grad Transfer, Kerry Blackshear.
Blackshear is the top rated grad transfer on this year’s market according to ESPN. However, there is no guarantee that he will be playing college basketball again this year. He has declared for the NBA Draft and has until May 29th to make his decision.
Surely, a year under Calipari at Kentucky would strengthen anyone’s draft stock. And a commitment from Blackshear on top of the signing Nate Sestina from Bucknell would make the Wildcat front court one of the best in the nation.
John Calipari is the best recruiter college basketball has ever seen. No calls, no texts, no emails, when he wants a player he flies private to their house and tells them to their face. He shows each recruit that they are a priority and never an afterthought. So far, it has has been working pretty well with 4 Final Fours, but only one title.
Turns out relying on 18 years olds doesn’t always turn out too well. Kentucky needs experience, but the top recruits that Calipari attracts never stay for more that a couple years. Hard to develop leaders in just one season. So how is the master recruiter going to get the experience he needs? That’s right, recruit it… through grad transfers.
John Calipari has been the Coach of Kentucky for 10 years now and he has only brought in one title, thanks to Anthony Davis. Kentucky always gets so much preseason hype, but they consistently fail to live up to it. John Calipari does not have the appeal as he once did. Coach K has taken over the game of one-and-done’s and it looks like Penny Hardaway make take 2nd place over Cal.
Let’s pause before this starts. Kentucky will always be the best college basketball program. The history behind Rupp, the 8 titles, the 30+ NBA players they have produced, and, of course, the fans. But, it seems to me that they are losing their stride and let me explain why.
Growing up, Kentucky always had a player everyone could love for 4 years and follow him into the NBA. For me, it was Keith Bogans. In fact, I still have a press clipping from his Senior Day and a signed jersey my parents got me for Christmas one year. You consistently knew who was on the court when the year started and you generally knew whether or not the team would win or lose throughout the year. But not anymore. Kentucky has lost some of its audience recently. Those crazy fans you hear about can’t fully engaged in the seasons anymore and that’s frankly because they’re sick of the same old routine.
Every year we get the hype of Cal recruiting a great class and we have such high expectations. But every year, Kentucky inevitably loses in the tournament and then all the players leave. For the younger folk, kids like me, it’s not a big deal to learn names and it doesn’t take much to get us into basketball season and believe the hype. But, I have seen a trend in the older generations that they are growing sick and tired of learning new names of players that consistently underperform with the Kentucky jersey on. Names like Skal Labissiere, Archie Goodwin, Nick Richards, the Harrison Twins, Daniel Orton, etc. Cal was once a recruiting guru, but, in all honesty, Cal is not the best recruiter anymore, and he is not a good coach.
Now calm down, stay with me here. Cal has not landed the number one recruit since 2012 with Nerlens Noel (according to ESPN 100). Since 2012, every number one recruit has gone to Duke besides Ben Simmons and now James Wiseman. The lowest Duke has fallen is number three when Skal came to Kentucky and Simmons went to LSU. Since 2012, Cal has only had 3, yes 3, recruits that were rated in the top 5 (Andrew Harrison, Skal, and Bam). In that time frame, Duke has had at least 2 every year. In fact, this year, Duke has 3 of the top 5 while Kentucky’s highest recruit was Keldon Johnson at #7. Cal has lost out on so many recruits, so it brings the question: Has he lost his edge? My answer is simple: yes.
…but it goes deeper than that. I think it is more of a fact that he has gotten comfortable. He got used to doing the bare minimum, and having the talent get him to the Final Four. 2011 was his best coaching year by far, where he took Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and Brandon Knight to the Final Four. Contrast that to 2014, where he got complacent. He thought he would win easily, but had to do some last second coaching. In 2015, his coaching lost us a chance at the program’s 9th NCAA Title. He trusted the twins instead of the hot hand Booker and the gentle giant, Ulis, which ultimately lost him the game.
Cal has been at Kentucky for 11 years, and he has one championship. In 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017, John Calipari should have won. In those years, he lost twice in the Final Four (to Uconn and Wisconsin) and lost once in the Title Game to Uconn. Since those years, Uconn and Wisconsin have both been irrelevant. Cal’s best teams at Kentucky have been 2015, 2010, 2012 in order with the most skilled first. In 2010, they could not hit free throws or three pointers in the Elite 8. Ironically, Cal could’ve convinced Jodie Meeks, the guy who scored 54 against Tennessee and was the one shining spot for Billy G, to stay and there would be no three pointer shortages. To make matters worse, when Calipari had his best two teams (2010 and 2015), Duke won both of the Championships.
Look, I love Cal and I love that he has brought the swagger back to Kentucky Basketball, but stats don’t lie. He can’t win in the tournament and he can’t recruit like he used to. All of this happened with only Coach K as the real competitor in recruiting. Now this year Kentucky had high expectations, but Duke beats them by 34 in the first game. Cal did not coach because he expected the talent to take him far. The game is changing for Cal. Now there is a younger challenger in Penny Hardaway. Penny has already, in his first year, taken 2 top recruits from Calipari in Wiseman and Jeffries. So I’ll ask you again, has Calipari lost his edge?