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Vitale: Don’t underestimate Calipari’s motivational ability

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)


Can Kentucky make a Final Four run?

Kentucky coach John Calipari said he thought so after UK lost at Auburn, its fourth straight loss. Since then UK has ripped off three straight wins and is playing better overall than it has in months.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said it would be a mistake to “underestimate John Calipari’s motivational ability” about anything.

“He has athletes. On a given night they can beat anybody,” Vitale said. “They proved that when they crushed Louisville and beat West Virginia. They are playing so much better now.

“Can they go to the Final Four? Yeah. Will they? That’s a different story.”

But if Kentucky can hit 10 3-point shots like it did against Missouri Saturday, a Final Four run becomes a much more possible scenario.

“Teams that succeed in March can make the 3. That has been a nightmare most of the year for Kentucky,” Vitale said. “They tease you at times but the stat sheet doesn’t lie. That’s the big worry with them.”

Vitale says this is not a “vintage Calipari team” but not to doubt UK’s overall talent and ability.

“They are so dominant athletically that they can score at will in high school. Now you have got to make shots,” Vitale said. “It gets to be a psychological thing. They have found out that dominant ability in high school and great ratings can be deceiving at this level.

“John had always spoiled everyone with great teams and great players like Anthony Davis, John Wall, Karl Anthony Towns, Brandon Knight, DeMarcus Cousins and more. Those teams were filled with greatness.

“With this group, they all better come back to school. The only one who maybe shouldn’t is Kevin Knox. I think he is a goner (to the NBA) even though another year in college would help him. But it’s tough to tell a kid with the dollars out there to stay and think about that second contract, not the first one.”


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  1. I agree with V.
    This team has the potential, no doubt about it.
    Knox will probably bolt for the NBA, but is he ready?
    I really don’t think so.
    Certainly, none of the others are ready for the next level.

    1. I agree with all you say, but if UK wins the SEC tournament, and then makes a deep run in the NCAA “big dance” or by chance wins No. 9, more than Knox will go try and turn pro IMO. If they don’t accomplish this, and leave the ‘big dance” early, that puts Calipari’s recruiting cycle in a sort of a predicament. There are only so many scholarships to give. He has to clear the deck doesn’t he, to make room for his next group of super Frosh??? Don’t get me wrong, I hope they all return, including Knox.

      1. If Vanderbilt can keep improving thru season’s end with the remaining games to be played, I think he has more upside for NBA consideration than any of the others, including Knox, He needs to develop his offensive game though.

        1. I agree with you that Vando has the biggest upside on the team. However, I just don’t think he’s ready for the jump. There is still much to be proven, IMO.

  2. Haven’t underestimated him yet. Vando does have the biggest upside but I truly hope he stays another year. Unfortunately the NBA drafts on potential not performance. He will go to the combine and that could be that. A first round offer and fear of a second injury on the foot could be enough to make him jump. But I for one hope not. He has so much more to learn. Another year and he will be a top 10 guy easy. So I guess this was the tweak we here about every year.


  3. 16 Wenyen Gabriel-Jr
    43 Sacha Killeya-Jones-Jr
    14 Nick Richards So
    13 P. J. Washington So
    35 Shai Alexander-So
    23 Quade Green-So
    20 Jarred Vanderbilt-So
    10 Hamidou Diallo-So-RS
    73 Jerari Baker-So
    08 Kevin Knox 11% So
    11 Immanuel Quickley Fr 100%
    14 Keldon Johnson Fr 25%
    36 Tyler Herro Fr

    If no one jumps this year, there is room on the roster for next year for everyone on this team and signed already for next year. Someone has to go if Calipari wants to add any additional players like O’Neal.

    1. Do you foresee any transferring?
      I’m thinking SKJ may transfer out.

      1. What about Wynyard? I know he is suspended for now, and injured. Is he out for good?

        1. My guess is that the Lumberjack is gone for good.

          1. Yeah, you are probably right Hornet. The guy must have shot somebody or something. Calipari has to get rid of somebody off this team to add another 5 star to an already loaded roster for next year, assuming this cracker jack bunch all return. I thought he was all about these kids? I guess just some kids.

  4. I don’t know who is going and staying, I was responding to the idea that Calipari needs for some to go to clear the decks for the next recruiting class. No one needs to go to make room for the next recruiting class as it currently exists. If Calipari plans to add any more new players, then there must be exits to make additional room for additional recruits. I hope none of these players leave early, whether to the NBA, overseas, or other schools.

  5. You guy’s are talking way ahead of yourselfs, let’s enjoy the ride what this team is doing now and then we can speculate when the season is over. There’s plenty ball to be play yet.

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