Tag:John Calipari
Posted on: April 8, 2011 8:52 am
Edited on: April 8, 2011 8:57 am

The annual Calipari-to-NBA rumors are here

The annual John-Calipari-to-the-NBA reports are officially underway.

(What took so long?)

Peter Vecsey's column in the New York Post on Friday is headlined "Kentucky coach may be on Knicks' radar." There's nothing concrete about the headline and really no substance to the report. It's mostly just speculation rooted in the speculation of a person Vecsey describes as a team executive "who knows a thing or two about a thing or two regarding goings-on behind the screens," which is a cute way of saying "I'm gonna toss this against the wall, and, at some point, we'll see if it sticks."

So will it stick?

Honestly, who knows?

What I can tell you, though, is that this is not the first time I've heard a Calipari-Knicks rumor. One was brought to me before the Final Four, for what it's worth, but it's difficult to separate fact from fiction with this stuff, especially when the Knicks are still playing with a coach still under contract. In other words, we'll have to wait and see where this goes, then see what happens next. But similar to how I stated that Calipari would've left Kentucky last year for the opportunity to coach LeBron James, I have no doubt Calipari would leave Kentucky this year for the opportunity to coach Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony (and perhaps Chris Paul) with the Knicks.

Will Calipari get that opportunity?

Again, who knows?

But the annual speculation is something UK fans will never be able to avoid.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 31, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 3:52 pm

UK can shoot its way to Final Four

Kentucky doesn't have five first-round picks on this team.

Three, probably.

But definitely not five.

So by that measuring stick this season's Kentucky team isn't nearly as talented as last season's Kentucky team, and yet I won't be surprised if this season's Kentucky team goes farther than last season's Kentucky team, which is to say all the way to the Final Four. They're young, sure, but they play with a unique level of maturity. Also:
  1. They're really athletic.
  2. They can really guard.
  3. They can really shoot.
(I like No. 3 the most.)

John Calipari has had four teams earn No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

They were:
  • UMass (1995-96)
  • Memphis (2005-06)
  • Memphis (2007-08)
  • Kentucky (2009-10)
Two of those teams made the Final Four (although both appearances were later vacated) and two did not, and the two that didn't lost in similar fashion, i.e., as favorites who couldn't make a gosh darn jumpshot. The 2005-06 Tigers shot 35 percent from 3-point range on the season and lost 50-45 to UCLA in the Elite Eight because they finished 2-of-17 from beyond the arc. The 2009-10 Wildcats shot 33 percent from 3-point range on the season and lost 73-66 to West Virginia in the Elite Eight because they finished 4-of-32 from beyond the arc. In other words, Calipari's two No. 1 seeds that lost in the Elite Eight lost because they shot just 12 percent on 3-pointers in Elite Eight games, which is both an astounding statistic and something I can't see happening to his latest dynamic team that looked great in Friday's 78-63 win at Louisville.

The Wildcats aren't the nation's best 3-point shooting team.

But they're in the top 20.

Kentucky is shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range as a team and has two guards -- Doron Lamb (54.9 percent) and Darius Miller (47.4 percent) -- making about 50 percent of their 3-point attempts; Brandon Knight (38.3 percent) and DeAndre Liggins (36.1 percent) provide two more capable shotmakers. So is this the type of team that's going to miss 88 percent of its 3-point attempts in an important game? No, I don't think it is. And that's why it might be wise to call the Wildcats the SEC favorite and add them to the list of serious Final Four candidates.

They won't have five first first-round draft picks like last season's team.

I assure you of that.

But the less-talented Wildcats might be good enough to play for a national title, regardless.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 9:21 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 9:32 am

FYI: UK didn't pass on an impact big for Kanter

It's impossible to write anything about Kentucky -- and by Kentucky, I mean John Calipari -- without folks from both sides flooding your inbox, and I don't really mind it. I'm fully aware there's no more polarizing figure in college basketball (and perhaps American sports) than the only man to have Final Fours vacated at two different schools. But that doesn't mean the complaints against him don't have to make sense, and the main complaint I've heard about Calipari's willingness to accept a commitment from Enes Kanter despite likely amateurism issues doesn't make any sense.

The complaint?

That Calipari possibly wasted a scholarship on Kanter that could've been used on another big.

The emails that say such are in response to me writing that signing Kanter was a "gamble worth taking" and that there "never was any real downside" for Calipari despite there being a real chance that Kanter would never be cleared to play. Some readers have insisted I'm wrong, that the downside is how UK might now have to start the season without an impact center. The following is a typical note that was posted on the message board below the column: "I'm not buying the no-lose story Parrish is selling. If Kanter doesn't come then [the Wildcats] are behind where they could've been had [Calipari] used the scholarship for a different center."

What's funny is that I received many emails making that same point, but nobody ever mentioned the "different center" Kentucky could've signed instead of Kanter. Want to know why? It's because there wasn't a different center to be signed, or at least not one that could have made any real impact at a program like Kentucky.

Let's rewind: Kanter committed on March 23, which is to say when there were no other impact centers available. Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Adreian Payne and all prospects like them had long been off the board, so there was nobody else to get. Furthermore, it's important to remember UK was, at the time, operating under the assumption that it wouldn't lose Daniel Orton to the NBA Draft. So all indications were that Calipari could afford to gamble on Kanter because he'd still have Orton either way, and, beyond that, who were the Wildcats going to take otherwise?

Again, there was nobody to take.

The best prospect taller than 6-foot-8 still on the board when Kanter committed was Terrence Jones.

And guess what?

Kentucky got him anyway.
Posted on: August 4, 2010 3:21 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 11:20 pm

Report: Chicago star set to commit to Kentucky

Anthony Davis, a 6-foot-10 forward from Chicago who could prove to be the best prospect in the Class of 2011, will announce soon that he'll play college basketball at Kentucky, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The paper cited a "reliable source."

Davis' commitment would give Kentucky three of the nation's top six prospects from the Class of 2011 (according to the latest rankings at Scout.com) and almost certainly ensure John Calipari will sign college basketball's best class for the third consecutive year. Davis would join Michael Gilchrist (No. 1 at Scout.com) and Marquis Teague (No. 6 at Scout.com) on the list of early UK commitments. Scout.com has Davis No. 5 nationally, but he is expected to be higher when the rankings are updated thanks to an unusual rise to prominence during the July evaluation period that concluded last week.

Davis was also reportedly considering Ohio State, DePaul and Syracuse.

An interesting aspect of the Sun-Times story came in the ninth paragraph, where the writer, Michael O'Brien, reported some are "alleging that the commitment cost $200,000." O'Brien described the allegation as a "rumor" and offered no sources for it. The prospect's father, Anthony Davis Sr., denied the "rumor" to the paper.

(UPDATE: The Sun-Times has removed, without explanation, the $200,000 allegation from O'Brien's story.)

(UPDATE No. 2: Lawyers representing Kentucky sent a letter to O'Brien late Wednesday formally demanding that the Sun-Times "withdraw the publication from any source from which it has been published, and issue an immediate statement that you know of no credible evidence indicating that there is any truth to the 'rumors' referred to in your article." O'Brien is yet to respond.)
Posted on: August 1, 2010 9:03 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2010 9:08 pm

Calipari: Dodson won't play for UK this season

John Calipari announced Sunday on his Facebook page that Darnell Dodson won't play for Kentucky this season.

"Practice is underway as we prepare for our Canada trip, [and] I'm pleased with the energy everyone brought," Calipari said. "I do want to let you all know that junior Darnell Dodson will not be playing for UK this season. If Darnell, who is academically eligible, decides to return, he could practice with the team if he meets our standards."

Calipari offered no further explanation, but his announcement is hardly a surprise. Dodson's future has been in question dating back to last season because of what sources told CBSSports.com were multiple attitude and off-the-court issues. Once source described Dodson simply as a "headache."

Dodson averaged 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game last season.
Posted on: June 2, 2010 11:18 am
Edited on: June 2, 2010 1:51 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

Kentucky officials should've known there were concerns that could affect the eligibility of Eric Bledsoe, an investigator who checks the background of athletes told the Lexington-Herald Leader's Jerry Tipton in a story published Wednesday.

"Coaches at other schools know there [were potential problems]," said Michael L. Buckner, an investigator and attorney based in Florida. "[So] I would assume Kentucky knew or should have known."

Buckner goes on to explain what I think is the most interesting aspect of the story -- that schools focused primarily on winning at any cost often don't do thorough background checks because they'd rather not know what's there. In other words, if the player is cleared by the NCAA, that's good enough for the school (even though the Derrick Rose case proved that the NCAA clearing a prospect hardly clears a school from future NCAA problems).

"Sometimes, I think, some schools may take the stance, 'We're just going to follow the rules as they dictate and only do what we're required to do,'" Buckner said. "... The NCAA gives schools a false sense of security when they clear a player to play. Then issues come up afterward."

In fairness to Kentucky, Bledsoe was going to play somewhere last season. Had he signed with Memphis, he would've played at Memphis. Had he signed with Florida, he would've played at Florida. But the reality of the situation is that the one-and-done prospect signed with Kentucky under a new and high-profile coach (John Calipari) who has had two Final Fours vacated, and, as Buckner noted, Kentucky should've known that alone would invite the type of scrutiny that led to the New York Times reporting last week that Bledsoe might've accepted extra benefits while in high school while making an unusual jump academically to meet freshman eligibility standards.

"That just raises the stakes," Buckner said. "'We need to do everything right. We need to dot i's, cross t's because we know people are going to look at the recruiting class in Calipari's first year, and subsequent years.'"

Instead, Kentucky chose to not take a stand, which isn't a surprise given that no athletics director has ever been able to properly stand up to Calipari and tell him something was off-limits the way multiple athletics directors told their coaches last year they could not enroll Lance Stephenson. Kentucky left Bledsoe's status up to the NCAA and only the NCAA without recognizing that its new coach's old school had just been burned by that same approach.

Again, in fairness to Kentucky, this is the way most schools do things. But it's becoming clear that UK must take a different approach with Calipari because if the school doesn't investigate thoroughly, various media outlets will, at which point an issue that could've been avoided can become an embarrassing problem that garners national headlines.
Posted on: May 14, 2010 1:19 am
Edited on: May 14, 2010 1:26 am

LeBron's loss could be UK's loss, too

LeBron James' bad night could turn into Kentucky's worst nightmare.

Will it?

We'll see in the coming weeks and months, I guess. But there's no denying the Celtics' 94-85 win over the Cavaliers that ended James' season in the Eastern Conference semifinals late Thursday leaves the future of UK's program in an uncertain state because John Calipari will now be considered a candidate at almost any place James plays next season.

Most believe James enters free agency with four realistic options.

One is Clevelend.

One is New Jersey.

One is Chicago.

One is New York.

Two of those franchises (New Jersey and Chicago) are looking for a coach, and a third (Cleveland) will be soon. So three of the four likely destinations for James will have a new coach in place next season, which means UK fans hoping to keep Calipari for more than a year had better start lobbying for the Knicks to sign the free agent they covet most.

In that case, James would play for Mike D'Antoni.


But if James chooses Cleveland, New Jersey or Chicago, Calipari will be a candidate to join him, and multiple sources have repeatedly told CBSSports.com that Calipari -- who is famously close with James and most of the people around James, including agent Leon Rose and basketball powerbroker William Wesley -- would not reject an offer to coach the two-time MVP in what would be the prime of his career.

Will Calipari get an offer?

That's unclear.

But if he does, sources believe he'll accept it.

"We'll see what happens," James said late Thursday night.

Yes, LeBron, I suppose we will.
Posted on: May 13, 2010 11:00 am

Strickland demoted at Kentucky

Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland, in the wake of a drinking-and-driving arrest, has been demoted to an administrative role, which should clear the way for Oregon assistant Kenny Payne to join John Robic and Orlando Antigua on John Calipari's staff.

"Rod Strickland has been a vital part of our success here at Kentucky and helped set a foundation for our program,” Calipari said.  “He will continue to be an integral part of our future successes in a non-coaching capacity."

Worth noting is that Payne is a close friend of William Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with longstanding ties to Calipari. Assuming Payne fills Strickland's spot at UK, the Wildcats might then become the favorite to land Terrence Jones, the McDonald's All-American from Portland who is still deciding between Washington and Kentucky.

Payne recruited Jones while at Oregon.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com