Calipari to use recruiting to bring UK back to prominence

John Calipari has one mission as the UK men’s basketball head coach: to serve the players and constantly recruit.

Calipari said while the ultimate prize is to win the NCAA Championship, he is here to make sure his players achieve their dreams — be it the NBA or a post-graduate job.

“This is their program,” Calipari said. “My job here is to serve those players and to continue to bring players in here that are talented, that will graduate and that will do what they’re supposed to do.”

Calipari, who in almost three weeks as the head coach has already received a letter-of-intent from DeMarcus Cousins, the No. 2 ranked recruit in the nation, said he is making sure he is always recruiting — either personally or in the media.

Another way Calipari plans to recruit star players is by UK’s jerseys. UK fans can expect a bit of teetering to the uniforms sometime soon, but it will be what the players want it to look like.

“I want to have the hippest uniforms ever. It will be the classiest, neatest uniform that players want to wear,” Calipari said. “I don’t care if people in the stands don’t like them, I need players to like them. That uniform is based to present it in a classy way that those players really want to wear.”

Another aspect of UK Calipari wants to change — or rather get back — is the dominance of the program, not just in the game but in recruiting as well.

Calipari said 10 years ago when someone from UK walked into a gym, the other coaches would just drop their heads before asking him if UK was recruiting a certain player. Once the UK coach said yes, Calipari said the other coaches would shake their hands and leave the building because they knew they had no shot of competing with UK.

“The program doesn’t have the brand it used to have, it’s just a fact,” Calipari said. “It doesn’t have the aura outside this small area it used to have. That’s not the case lately. Hopefully, it is now. We need to get that back. If you get that back everything else kind of falls into place.”

Calipari said the way to get it back is by the style of play, coaching, developing players and the ability to be seen on national TV. He also said it’s different to recruit at UK, where he said you can recruit the ‘best and the brightest,’ saying he now has the ability to recruit from Texas to North Dakota.

Calipari, who has been successful at getting his players drafted, including last year’s No. 1 pick Derrick Rose, said the fans of UK basketball need to get used to having players leave after one and two years.

“You just keep getting a great talent pool every year,” Calipari said. “(Players leaving early) doesn’t hurt you. It helps you. We’ve had four players at Memphis go after one year. It’s because of how we played. If you’re a player that has a chance to go pro, you look at a program and say that’s where you’re going.”

marc says:

jizz jizz jizz oh what a relief it is!

Gayle Niemeyer says:

As my son said, “we went from the low point of UK Basketball history to the zenith in three weeks!”
I couldn’t have said it better. I’ve been a fan for over fifty years and this is the beginning of what will be the return of the University of Kentucky basketball program to the rarified air of excellence!

Mark says:

Make sure you discuss this at Dynasty Defenders. UK basketball is back, baby!

ART says:

I LIKE THE FIRE THAT COACH CAL BRINGS TO THE PROGRAM. BUT THE NOTION THAT WE WANT A CHAMPIONSHIP EVERY YEAR IS NUTS. I JUST WANT TO BE IN THE HUNT, TO HAVE THAT CHANCE.

Hank says:

Everything Coach Cal is bringing to UK is an inspiration…. he will have the UK faithful supporting him 100%. His final coaching destination prior to retirement will prove to be his most rewarding. Saving the best (BIG BLUE) for last will be Coach Cal’s ticket to the Hall of Fame making him a special part of the Big Blue family…. loved and idolized forever!

Hank