By LARRY VAUGHT
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.”