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Calipari has to figure out the right path for every player

John Calipari. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Wednesday was national signing day for football and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops did extremely well. However, it also made me think about the difference in the way basketball coach John Calipari recruits.

So could Calipari ever sign players who would want to stay three or four years?

Recently he tried to explain his answer to that question.

“They’re all on a different path, and that’s the thing that’s hard. Everybody is on a different path. We’ve had guys here a year and leave. We’ve had guys two years and left. We’ve had guys three years and left. We’ve had guys stay four years and be in the NBA. Some of them graduate and then go on, and they don’t play professionally,” Calipari said.

“Everybody is on their own path. What affects guys sometimes is someone else’s path and the best you can do is be your best. Be your best. Like I said, we’re about these kids. So you can look at it whatever you want. You can try to create – we’re about these kids. What is right for them? In the most cases what our jobs is to prepare them for what’s next.

“Some of them totally buy in and give 100 percent, spend all of their time – and others don’t quite do it that way. They think that there’s a magic wand here. There is no magic wand. You take what you want. You earn. We’re here all day. I mean, it isnt’ going to be because we won’t spend time with you. It’s not going to be because we’re not on the biggest of big stages.

“We can’t do it for you. You’ve got to go take it. Again it’s like this team I’m coaching right now, love this team.”

Calipari again talked about players being “willing passers” and knowing where every teammate is on the court at all times.

“We’re at that level trying to get them a better feel for that. But, they’re getting better. They’re competing. It’s good stuff,” the UK coach said.

Calipari said he doesn’t recruit players who plan to be four-year players.

“I recruit the best players we can recruit and try to help those kids. And if that includes two- or three- or four-year guys, that’s fine. Would I rather do this like I did back in UMass? Yeah, I’d rather be coaching guys (for three and four years). It’s not what the environment is,” Calipari said. 

“We’re not going to have any blowout games. They’re done. We didn’t blow out people that you thought we should so every game we play is going to be a war. Well, love it. You only learn from that kind of competition. I told you before, you don’t learn from Popcorn State, beating them by 40. You don’t learn. But you do learn when every game is like this.

“Every game will be a war. Every game will come down to three possessions. Alright, now we know playing winning basketball is going to matter. We go through this every year. You can create what you want to create. This is every single year.”


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  1. Then why do you schedule “popcorn state” ever?

    This sounds like more of this coach’s continuous BS.

    Sorry, but my ears don’t respond to this anymore.

    The BBN has supported this program for generations, and as this coach observed when he arrived, we hang banners for final fours minimum, and championships are the true standard, not the number of players that make it to the NBA.

  2. He also said in that interview, as I recall, that he had never met a kid that wanted to be here for 3 or 4 years. I found that hard to swallow, and that sort got my attention. Calipari is like every other coach, as long as he has superior talent he is a pretty good coach. The really great coaches IMO take good players who stay around long enough to master the system, and for the fans to bond with and remember their names. Then they just go win a championship or two sometime during their college career, Of course it is about “these kid” as he puts it, but I think the program comes first, not the players. The NBA dreams these type kids have will usually take care of its self because skill and experience at this level gets many good players NBA ready.

  3. unfortunately we are now in a spin cycle of rhetoric to explain why UK is not winning with players that are not head and shoulders above their competition. Recruiting, like business and fashion, runs in cycles. Last year’s fashions are in this year’s bargain bin. Unfortunately for UK they have been out of fashion with most of the top 5 players in the country since 2015. That coincidentally coincides with when the coaching staff also changed pretty radically. I don’t think that is a coincidence though.

  4. Does anyone know if Nick plans on playing this year?

  5. Is it going to take another first round loss in the NIT to get this guy to move on?

  6. This is what we get when Cal continues to recruit tall, lean, softballs.

  7. ESPN featured the KY/UNC game at halftime. 100% of the conversation was about Carolina. This is a must win for KY as well as the Louisville game. If not look for them to play on Thursday in the SEC tournament.

  8. Good question Mike, not only Nick the team itself. Saturday game against N.Carolina is high for us to show up.

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