By LARRY VAUGHT
At least Kentucky coach John Calipari can joke a little bit now about the national buzz it created when his son, Brad, put his name in the transfer portal after spending three seasons at Kentucky.
Tuesday he was asked what his wife, Ellen, thought about her son maybe leaving UK as a graduate transfer for another school where he could get more playing time.
“Well, mom said if he leaves she’s going with him. So, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Hope she was kidding. Maybe she wasn’t,” John Calipari said. “The ideal thing would be for him to have more of an opportunity here, but you know, I’d love to do it, but that’s my own son.
“It has to be earned and you have to deserve it and you have to take what you want, and the other guys try to take what he wants, and if he is better than you then I am playing him. If you’re not doing your thing and you’re changing the game, guess what, I’m taking you out. This thing is about winning and you being responsible for you.”
Translation: Brad Calipari is not going to take playing time away from Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey or Kahlil Whitney next year.
The coach said he was still a bit perplexed how media outlets found out almost immediately when Brad Calipari put his name into the transfer portal and it became national news instantaneously.
“How does the media get it within a minute? That’s supposed to be for colleges, not for the media. But the media, I’m researching that. How does the media have all of this? It was out within 30 seconds of him putting his name in,” Calipari joked.
Brad had talked to his father the night before putting his name into the transfer portal about what was the proper procedure if he wanted to transfer.
“The next morning, he put his name in without telling me, his mom, his sisters, anybody. He just put it in there. He didn’t think anything. But the media got it within 30 seconds and all of a sudden it is trending nationally and Cal and his son are having a fist fight and he is leaving. What?” Calipari said.
“I mean, you know, do you blame him? He was in here three times yesterday working out. Do you blame him for wanting to play more and with knowing who is here? Has he gotten better? Absolutely, he has gotten better. So now, he can look around, and I even told him to look at Division II. What’s wrong with that? Go to a place where you are well coached, where you get a chance, where you are in a good league.”
Calipari knows Division II basketball is a lot better than many Division I college basketball fans realized.
“They’re just a little smaller, but you’ve got talented guys,” the UK coach said.
His son could still end up back at UK. He’s in summer school classes now living in the basketball dorm.
“I’m proud that he graduated in three years. It took me six. I mean, he graduated in three years and is playing every day against guys like this and he survives and he thrives and he gets better. I mean, what he’s taking from this is his commitment to how he trains, how he eats, what he does, it’s going to help him with anything, especially after basketball when it is done,” Calipari said.
“Take that and what your sister did, which is the same thing, and shift it over to here and you’ll be unique and special at whatever you want to do.”
The coach understands it’s hard for his son, or any player, not to get to play as much as he wants.
“You’re still held to a high standard. But that’s why guys leave here (as transfers) and none of the stuff phases them after. They leave here and they weren’t lied to in the process,” Calipari said. “I say this, and you know some of the families would be mad at their coach. Well, if you’re mad at him either he wasn’t telling the truth or you wanted to hear a lie and he told it to you. You wanted to hear something that he was willing to tell you and now you’re mad at him for telling you what you wanted to hear. Don’t be mad; just move on and go on.
“For my son and all of these kids, this is hard here. It’s not easy, and if you’re not willing to work, you should not come here. There is someone in there that’s working and if you think, ‘Well, I should play because–’ no. You take what you want and it’s a competitive environment.
“We’re not recruiting you and never recruiting again. But, if you’re afraid of anybody in this program, you’re not afraid of anybody up there (in the NBA)? I mean, this stuff is a competitive environment and you’ve got to want this, and then you take what you want.”