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John Calipari: “It’s nice to have guys back.”

Ashton Hagans (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

For just the second time in his 10 years at Kentucky, John Calipari will have a starting point guard returning to lead his team.

Andrew Harrison came back for a sophomore season and UK went 38-0 before losing in the Final Four to Wisconsin in 2015. Now the Cats will bring back point guard Ashton Hagans from a team that reached the Elite Eight before falling to Auburn.

“It’s nice to have players back. We have four really quality players back,” Calipari said.

In addition to Hagans, Kentucky also returns Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery and Immanuel Quickley off last year’s team. For some teams that might not be a lot, but for Kentucky it is a lot.

“The last time we had four players back who were quality players like that was 2014-15. I enjoy coaching guys two, three and four years,” Calipari said. “In this, what I do, you just want people when they leave to be prepared and ready for success. That’s the whole thing.

“We’ve had some guys leave too early, but it wasn’t my choice. They were counseled, ‘It might be too early. You might want to think about this.’ But, when they decide to do it, you’re all over it to help them. But it’s nice to have guys back.”

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  1. I myself don’t like the OAD , but I wish some of our cat fans understand it’s not Cal choice weather a player leave early or not. The green pasture is to easy to pass if that opportunity comes to that certain player to earn it. You got to blame the NCAA and NBA not putting restriction rules in to put a stop to this. Heck if I had the opportunity to make a million I would jump on a heart beat. Its easy for us say wrong things about how the system works and it’s wrong. It’s the way it is now and days don’t blame Cal for the pipe line that’s going on from College and NBA.

  2. There should be no restrictions. If an NBA owner wants to write the checks for children to play for their franchise, more power to the owner and the children. Free enterprise at its finest, or worst.

    The problem with that plan is owners are going to make more mistakes on their children than in this OAD system because the 1 year out of high school provides much more information and the uncertainties are reduced for the owners. That is the only reason for the one year before drafting these kids, fewer multi-million dollar mistakes.

    1. Very good points here Professor

  3. That is the ONLY reason for the OAD system we currently have. Don’t be surprised if the system is scraped by the 2022 draft that will allow players to come to the NBA straight out of high school if aged 18. It looks like that will happen and if so, Calipari’s value to high school seniors all but evaporates. The elite will go straight to the NBA and the rest will go to schools for their academic credentials or for demonstrated ability to win conference/national titles. I think that will be the last nail in Calipari’s coffin as far as the college game is concerned. Look for him to retire or move on to the NBA again as an advisor/special assistant this time…lifetime contract notwithstanding. If the Thunder trade Westbrook and go into a full rebuild mode, that would be a great time to approach Billy Donovan about coming back to the college game. He would be the perfect fit for Kentucky in the exOAD era.

  4. You are kidding right? Donovan was already offered the UK job and passed, remember? Besides, if what you propose came true, if Donovan didn’t win a SEC championship, and a national championship his first year you would be on his case just like you are Calipari’s . The other thing, can he recruit like Cal. I doubt it.

    1. My point is that Cal is here to stay and will be gone when he decides to leave. Also, you two are the only people on this site that are down on Calipari. I would also argue that out in the Commonwealth more love Cal, and appreciate the job he is doing, than those who don’t. Finally, be careful what you and Catmandoo wish for Mike. Also, UK is not mediocre as Catmandoo said, never have been, nor ever will be in round ball. UK has certainly not been mediocre under John Calipari. Can’t believe a so called former player he claims to be would ever put a statement like that in print. It is a mute issue anyway, only brought up to stir the water.

  5. 2022 Pup. Goodbye to Calipari and all of you Rah Rahs. Just a note…there will be no Final Fours for us during that time….just also ran mediocrity.

    1. @ Catmandoo:
      Calipari has a 10 year rent free lease in your head…
      (kinda funny, when one pauses to think about it).

    2. @ Larry
      The day will come when we will replay Catmandoo’s ridiculous prognostications here in this public forum. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later, but make no mistake…
      That day WILL come.

  6. When some of the Rah Rahs come on here and act like this is a “support UK website only” we may be in a little trouble. For those really paying attention to some of my commentary over the months, you maybe can find a way to remember that I have also been big fan of Calipari over long haul. There has never been a better ambassador of UK basketball and a better, or harder working, recruiter than Cal. It is just in the “what have you done for me lately category” I feel he has been misjudging talent and taking star ratings over heart, not developing talent in keeping with pay grade, and having brain cramps at critical times during critical games. I also feel he is being out recruited on many of quality bigs by an increasing number of competitor coaches. Too many of you are so self absorbed in your thinking that you look very foolish at times and are very easy targets for the Catmandoo who has a better grasp of the goings on than you do. In addition and in the “for what it is worth category” I stand by my duped by Stoops comments as was my feeling at the time. The man and his staff have shown great improvement IMO in coaching and recruiting and deserve all the plaudits they have received…still not willing to share that much credit with Gran but hope that changes in future.

  7. Mike, you and the Professor are the only guys here that have a clue. Everyone else just attacks anyone who dares to speak the truth. It’s people like Pup and Hornet that make everyone else hate BBN. Calipari has a very good team this year. One that SHOULD make the Final Four, but WON’T. Sestina will largely be under utilized, and Nick and EJ will not get the chance to have a break out year because Calipari will run the offense through Brooks and Juang. You can’t win a national title without a dominant big man. Cal has the whole season to get that out of one of those bigs, but won’t. The guards and wings will take 90% of the shots and the team will shoot 42% for the season instead of the 52% that could be realized with an offense that goes through our bigs. You get more free throws with that type of offense and you also put the opposing team in foul trouble much earlier. Calipari just doesn’t get it. That is why he will leave after the OAD is done away with in 2022. The post OAD era will be dominated by coaches who accurately assess talent and coach those kids up to the next level. Coaches like Izzo, Self, Wright, Pearl, Marshall, and Donovan (when he becomes the next UK coach) will rule college basketball. Smith and Coach K probably won’t be around much longer than that. It will be good to see college basketball get back to being played by true student athletes again.

    1. Professor, you are being singled out here. It is called sucking up by the way. What say you, do you agree with these two Calipari haters that he can’t coach, can’t recruit, Is not a good X and O coach after more than 30 years in the business, really? The arrogance here in this post as to others who post on this site is hard to take without responding.

      I just refer to Cal’s body of work. At my last count, 18 NCAA tourney appearances, 13 NCAA sweet sixteen appearances, 4 final four appearances, 5 SEC regular season championships, 6 SEC tournament championships, and 1 national title, and had that UK team come back, no telling how many more. He was AP coach of the year in 2015, he was a three time Naismith CofY, won the Jim Phelan Award in 2009, and has been a SEC CofY three times in 10 years. The only coach I know of that went 38-1 in a single year, He has a better than 80% win record at UK, not bad. Plus, he has coached on the major college level at three different schools. And this guy thinks our HOF coach should hit the road. Unbelievable. If and when the OAD system is long gone, I have faith that Calipari would do just fine. He adapts well to a changing environment, always has. Catmandoo has a burr under his saddle for Calipari that is sad to see from a guy who claims he wore the blue and white.

  8. Just as I pointed out last week in another thread that had degenerated into a Calipari bashfest, this thread began with a discussion of the OAD system. I expressed my long held view that the OAD system implemented by the NBA owners is driven entirely by their self interests, not the interests or well being of the kids they covet or the college game, much less the spirit of a free market system that should be the hallmark of any American business enterprise.

    Thereafter, this thread digressed into the typical Calipari-hating diatribe that so many of the Vaughts’ Views threads seem to become these days.

    My suggestion to all:

    1) Post your views without reference to others.
    * It should be easy to say, “I believe …..” without calling Larry, Moe, or Curly stooges!
    * For those who seem compelled to call out other posters, ask yourself why?
    * Ask yourself, why can’t I express my opinion or view without calling out others?
    2) Allow others to have their say.
    3) If you don’t agree with someone else, so what. See number 1, and then move on. Why encourage those with whom you disagree by responding to them by name, or by calling them names, whenever they make an appearance.

    4)

    1. I agree with your above rules Professor, if everybody else plays by them. That said, there are only two Calipari bashers on VV’s that I see. The rest think Coach has done a pretty good job in 10 years. But you called it for what it is.

      1. Not sure why it is so hard to keep every story from becoming an pro or can Calipari post. I have started deleting some comments for the first time when the same things just keep getting said and said. I am for being open minded, supportive, criticial or whatever. But I think most people here get the points being made the first time … or at least the second time.

        1. Larry V. Unfortunately, the tenor of our culture has taken on this type of persona and we all get behind our keyboards, and think we can say whatever we want, in whatever manner we choose, without a price or retribution. Unfortunately, we all eventually do pay a price for the coarsened pubic discourse.

          1. Preach it Professor. May just turn your comments into a guest post

  9. Ok Pup, according to the Professor’s views, its ok to be a Calipari basher, so get over it!

    1. It is ok to support him too and most of BBN do just that. There will be fun times to discuss this with you later when he wins No. 9. You have dug yourself a deep hole.

  10. I am amazed at the vitriol that exists within the BBN over Calipari. Is he the perfect coach? Absolutely not, but he is also pretty good at what he does. In addition, I believe Coach Calipari is a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good mentor for his players, and a good citizen of our community, state and nation. If he can manage to win another title, he will further distinguish his basketball record. Consider his record within the historical context of this program.

    Coach Rupp won 4, and many argue he could have, in fact should have won more, but for this or that, usually involving devious schemes of others to prevent Rupp from dominating.

    Coach Hall won 1, and many argue he could have, in fact should have won more but for this or that, usually involving devious schemes of others to prevent Joe B. and UK from continuing the dominance established by Rupp.

    Coach Pitino won 1, and many argue he could have, in fact should have won more but for this or that, including untimely injuries, and strange occurrences in the tournament like missed free throws, inexplicable fouls, and other schemes.

    Coach Smith won 1, and many argue that he could have, in fact should have won more but for this or that, including untimely injuries and strange occurrences in the tournament.

    Coach Calipari has won 1, and many argue that he could have, in fact should have won more but for this or that, including his adoption of the OAD system and schemes involving others to prevent UK from once again dominating the sport.

    Fellas, it is difficult to win this championship. It is either the most coveted, or at least second most coveted prize in college athletics.

    I don’t know if Calipari will win a 2nd championship or whether he will retire with only 1 just as Pitino, Smith, and Hall before him. But I do know that UK will eventually win #9, and eventually will win #10, and ……

    After Rupp’s 4th in 1958, the BBN had to wait for 20 years before Hall found the magic in 1978. There were close calls along that path. Then the BBN has to wait 18 years before Pitino caught lightning in the bottle and Smith rode that wave to #7, and there were close calls during that 18 year run also. Then the BBN had to wait 14 years before Calipari turned the trick in 2012 for #8. There were some close calls during that run as well. Other than the freakish 10 titles in 12 years by UCLA/Wooden in the 1960-1970s, no other program can claim 8 titles in the 8 decades of this championship.

    As a young man, I grieved at the end of nearly every season that the Cats failed again to get it done. As an old man, I have come to my own terms about this and take a longer, more tempered view of things. I may not live long enough to personally enjoy #9 or #10, but I am completely confident that both will happen.

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