Wherever John Calipari goes in relation to college basketball, there are always a ton of questions surrounding him. There is no question that he is a very good recruiter and a very good head coach. He had success at Massachusetts, Memphis, and in his first season at Kentucky, he took a young, talented group of Cats to the Elite Eight. However, no matter how good of a coach he is, he can’t really shake the stigma that he’s “slimy.” It seems as if he plays by his own set of rules and if he happens to get caught, Coach Calipari just quits the school and moves on to another school. Both of his Final Four appearances have been wiped off the books. It happened at Massachusetts, it happened at Memphis, and now there seem to be questions about him now that he’s at Kentucky. The questions will always be there. I’m not saying he has broken any rules during his time at Kentucky, but something that happened last week is a little fishy.
For those that don’t know the story, there were two young kids in Oregon. One was Terrence Jones and the other was his best friend Terrence Ross. Both of these kids announced at a joint news conference that they were going to stay close to home and both play their college basketball at Washington. Then reportedly Jones called John Calipari to let him know that he wouldn’t be attending Kentucky. However, after their conversation, Jones has decided to postpone his decision to go to Washington. I wasn’t on the other end of that phone so I have no idea what John Calipari said to this young man. I have no idea if he even said anything illegal. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. However, I do know that before Jones picked up the phone to call the Kentucky coach, he was on his way to play for the Huskies. By the time he hung up the phone, he was still undecided. Coach Cal may have some more questions to answer.
John Calipari joined Steve Hartman and Michael Eaves on Fox Sports Radio to talk about the pressure of coaching at Kentucky, who his next star is like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall, and also about him having so many one-and-done players recently.
On the pressure of coaching at Kentucky:
“I’m in a coffee shop three days ago and I’m just sitting there minding my own business and a guy taps me on the shoulder and goes ‘tough year coach.’ I look at the guy and I go ‘you know what makes it tough?’ He said ‘what’s that?’ I said you win 35 games, you get to an Elite Eight, and a guy comes up to you at a coffee shop and tells you ‘tough year coach.’ That’s what makes it tough.”
On whether or not coaching Kentucky basketball is the hardest job in college sports:
“I think this and Notre Dame Football. I think they’re in the same boat. Steve I’m loving it. Michael you know that. I’m telling you it’s a very hard job because you wear this coat 24 hours a day. You can’t take the coat off, it just hangs on you. But I’m loving it. It’s still the best job in college basketball. There are other good jobs, but this one happens to be the best. The thing that’s happened right now is that everyone’s on this Cal is one and done this guy and he’s only recruiting. First of all, I don’t like the rule. I think kids should be able to go directly to the league. I’ve been saying it for years and I haven’t changed. Or they should go to college like baseball players for two or three years, whatever they come to the conclusion they should do. The problem is the rule says you gotta go to school for a year. We didn’t recruit all one-and-dones last year. No one knew of Eric Bledsoe. No one heard of him. Daniel Orton didn’t play his senior year of high school because he blew out his knee. And DeMarcus Cousins, no one thought he was mature enough to go to the NBA after a year. All of the sudden John Wall becomes a great point guard, these guys develop, and you throw Patrick Patterson in the mix and they’re all gonna be drafted in the first round. We didn’t plan on it! But I’m happy for those guys.”
On who could be the next Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, or John Wall for his team:
“Hopefully it’s Brandon Knight and we’ve got a commitment from a junior who’s one of the top juniors in the country. You look at it and kids are saying hey, he’s preparing. Derrick Rose had to be prepared different than Tyreke and John Wall had to be prepared different from Tyreke or Derrick. You’re looking at Brandon, it’s gonna be the same way. He’s gotta be prepared different. But again, we’re going in and trying to field a team that comes together, plays great defense, does all the right things, plays together, and then the kids benefit. Last year’s team sacrificed for each other. I give you an example. Eric Bledsoe only scored 11 points per game and Daniel Orton scored only four points per game. Patrick Patterson, John, and DeMarcus all could’ve scored five or six more points per game, but we just wouldn’t have won as many as we won. They all sacrificed for each other and they all benefited.”
On the critics discounting what he’s done since he hasn’t won the National Title:
“How about this? You’re at Massachusetts and you get to a Final Four. We’re at Memphis, Elite Eights and Final Fours. Are you really supposed to win National Championships at Massachusetts or Memphis? (Host: No.) So when they say it, I don’t care. All I know is this. We’re preparing players for life after basketball and we’re preparing them for what their dream is. And you’re looking at Marcus Camby. When you say only point guards, Marcus and DeMarcus I think are going to be pretty good pros and they weren’t point guards. Chris Douglas Roberts who was a two guard. Or Rodney Carney who was a three man. Patrick Patterson who’s a four man. We’re trying to develop players.”