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Complete Transcript of John Calipari at Media Day

John Calipari

JOHN CALIPARI: Let me address this before we get started. Five days of, five practices in three days, I traveled yesterday on the plane last night. A guy said to me, hey, that California law passed and I’m, like, what California law? And he kind of told me. I have not looked at it, read it, haven’t spent any time, don’t have a full view of it so I’m not really going to say anything. And I really don’t have an opinion yet because I haven’t really said, I got it digest what they’re trying to do. So I would say to you, I really don’t know yet. And but other than that this is open to whatever you would like to ask.

Q. Hoping you could provide us a medical report on Dontaie Allen and any plan of action you and the staff may have for him in the coming weeks.

JOHN CALIPARI: He has been doing things in the gym, but I still think my guess is he’s still a month away. But I’m not talking as the – Geoff (athletics trainer Geoffrey Staton) would probably be the one to tell you better. But he has not been practicing.

Q. How would you describe the importance of point guard play for any team?

JOHN CALIPARI: Especially in college basketball, guard play, if you really want to have one of those teams, you better have good guards. And when you’re talking point guards, we have had all kind of different types of point guards. This year I think we have three guys that easily could play point guard. And there may be times that all three of them play at one time. I’ve done that before when we had Jamal (Murray), Isaiah (Briscoe) and Tyler (Ulis). We played three point guards. And your teams, there’s things you give up but there’s things you gain. But when you have more than one, something happens, whether it’s foul trouble, injuries or anything else, you have room, because you have more than one. So Tyrese (Maxey) and Ashton (Hagans) are going right at each other. I mean it’s great to see. But Immanuel (Quickley) is not even the same player. I mean, I had someone come in and watch us practice and say, he’s not even the same guy. The reason is he’s in a different frame of mind. It’s kind of like when P.J. (Washington) came back. P.J. came back, it’s not that he just came back, he came back with a different mentality. He came back with a change of how he responded and how he saw things.

Immanuel seems to be that guy right now. Now he’s building his own confidence. I can’t give him confidence. I can help him gain confidence, he’s got to build it himself. Then you got to get into games and you got to have demonstrated performance. You got to do something in the games that convinces you, not me, that I got this. So but he’s done great.

Q. You’ve been here for over 10 years now, but with this being your first year under the lifetime contract —

JOHN CALIPARI: There’s no such thing as a lifetime contract. Will you guys, please, they could fire me in a year and that was my lifetime, right there. I mean, there’s no, there’s no such thing. They want me to finish coaching here and that’s what we had talked about, for more, it was probably five months, but anyway, go ahead talk about the — who am I looking at right now? Where are you? Oh, I got you. Thank you.

Q. Do the expectations just feel different heading into the season with the new contract?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well, here’s what I would say. I’ve been here 10 years. Kind of thinking back, it’s been a pretty good run. So now going forward has been I’m, this is the second tour, let’s see what happens now. That, what happened for those 10 years are done. Final Fours, national champion, all the stuff, it’s done, league.  Now what happens in the next 10? How do we grow as a program? How do we keep getting better as a staff? As a coach, how do I keep leading better, communicating better, what do I do and forget with that. Let’s move to this next tour. This next 10. So that’s been my mentality. And whether it be in recruiting, where we go back and say, okay, what are some things that we can do different because what’s happened is people kind of attack how we recruit and basically because I’m transparent in what we do and what we say. So now it’s, okay, what do we do that’s a little bit different in our approach. So but I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited, I feel refreshed. I like this team, great group of kids, a little bit thin. Nine guys on scholarship playing. Dontaie would be 10. I mean, I know we have 13, but I usually don’t give 13, but we usually have enough to practice with, we’re a little light. But some of the best teams I’ve coached weren’t full rosters and guys. You have to be in the game and it helps them, their own mentality, especially young kids.

Q. Can you talk about Keion Brooks Jr., what you’ve seen from him and what you’re expecting to see this year.

JOHN CALIPARI: I told him Sunday night that he’s a good basketball player. He’s got a good feel for the game. Physically he has to catch up. He knows. He’s learning things that’s never seen before, but he’s taking it all in. He’s long, he’s active, he plays rough, he just, physically he’s, his body’s got to catch up to everything else. But I even told him, he may play some stretch 4 for us because he gives us that length and size and ability to space the court. And it’s hard for 4s to guard him, even E.J. struggles to guard him at times, he can do things with that ball, and a lot of stuff he starts like he’s a guard. But he’s big. 6′-9″.

Q. What are your expectations for Nick Richards this year?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well, right now he’s really playing well and he’s playing confident and, obviously, the expectation is this is his time. He played against two mooses last year. They could take your confidence away. But he, right now, what he’s doing on the court and how he’s playing, whether he goes against E.J. (Montgomery), whether he goes against Nate (Sestina), scoring around the basket, shooting the ball better, running, he’s in the best shame I’ve seen him in. But again, you got to get on the court, and now you’re playing against a player that’s a football player that’s trying to just say, I know I can’t play you, I’m going to try to rough you up. Can you hold your ground? Can you sustain your confidence in that kind of situation? Until we start playing games, who will know? Now, my hope is he’s ready for it. He’s been here, has a smile on his face, he’s a beautiful kid, he’s one of the nicest people we have had here. There’s no one rooting for him more than me.

Q. As someone who has had good point guards, how do you see the guys you have now, I don’t want to say advancing that position, but where do you feel like things have kind of transformed in your time here?

JOHN CALIPARI: It’s funny, every — I don’t like comparing players because they’re all different. I do know that Ashton is coming back as the conference defensive player or co-defensive Player of the Year and he’s coming back. He’s even more confident defensively than he was a year ago, but I’m going to be honest with you, Tyrese is right there. Like, you got two guys that can really guard the ball and really be long and really still block shots and physically sustain. So, and then Immanuel is a different, more of a set up, spot shooting three point guard. So they’re all different. But my whole thing, and I tell them all the time, my job is for all these kids is to make them uncomfortable. That means when I’m not coaching them how they are now. I’m coaching them where I see they need to go and where they’re capable of being, which means they have not been there, which means they’re going to be uncomfortable all the time. Their job is to learn to be comfortable, meaning uncomfortable. We have to set up situations where they struggle, so they have to deal with it. We have to set up situations where they’re feeling pain, whether it be conditioning or anything else we do, taking them to limits, because it’s the only way they learn about themselves. So with those point guards we’re just going to continue to raise the bar. And it doesn’t mean kick, punch, swear, all that, it’s just you raise the bar, this is where we’re coaching you, that is not acceptable down here. I know you’re comfortable playing that way because you’ve played that way your whole life. Now we need you to go up into this area (Indicating) and you’re going to be uncomfortable, but that’s what my job is and the job of our staff.

Q. You said that Ashton gets it now. I’m wondering how that will be reflected, you hope, in his play this season.

JOHN CALIPARI: Every kid that comes in here, their first year there’s anxiety. At times there’s, I call it a fake swagger. You’re scared to death but you’re acting like you’re not. And you look at this and you say, oh my gosh, John Wall and Brandon Knight and we could go on to all these 40 guys and max deals and Jamal Murray, and you look, and you here, I’m that good, I think. But in that second year, if you’re honest yourself, if you’re not delusional, and you know what’s expected and you’re confident that you’re trained to do it and grow like Ashton is right now, I mean he’s got a different way about him. You can just see it. I’m saying it again, Immanuel Quickley walked in the court, we practiced, a guy grabbed me and said, he’s not even the same kid, he’s not the same — forget about basketball-wise look at how he walks and carries himself. And as a coach that’s what you’re looking for. But I’ll say it again, it’s nothing I did. It’s that year, the anxiety’s gone, the work kicks in, you trust yourself, you know you deserve to do it. And I’ll throw another one. You work so hard and spend so much time you just don’t surrender. I spent too much time to surrender, I’m not surrendering. Like right now when you see Immanuel and Johnny Juzang, he’s trying to take Johnny like, hey, man, this is real here. And he goes right at Johnny. And Johnny’s another one, can shoot the ball, learning to defend, learning to be the rebounder he can be because of his size. The best thing is, when Johnny shoots it, everybody thinks it’s in. He shoots the ball — look, there are shooters and there are makers. We have had some makers, we have also had shooters here. Go 1-for-8. When he shoots it, you think the ball’s going in. And he’s a natural scorer. Kahlil (Whitney) scores the ball naturally.

Now, with those two we got to get them to just every once in a while like pass the ball. Throw it to somebody. And it’s funny, I’m sitting with my guys in the morning and I said, you know, had anxiety Saturday night thinking, oh, my gosh. And I wake up at 5 on Sunday and I’m like, oh, my gosh. And I’m thinking these guys are confused and then I go, you know what, I’m a little confused. No wonder they’re confused. And the point is, every year I coach this is what it starts like. Every year. But I forget all I remember is the last three weeks of the season how we did. And I don’t remember going through all this stuff. And I when we met for practice I told them that. This is normal. Keldon Johnson is going through exactly what you went through Kahlil, exactly. Johnny, you had Tyler (Herro) going through the same thing. It’s all the same. For me though it’s a process and you got to stay in the moment and you got to continue, it’s hard because we’re trying to help them develop individual habits yet put a team together. That’s why this team doesn’t become what they become until January, February. And in 2014 it was March. We starting five freshmen, it took us that long.

Q. Nate Sestina I think the easy comparison for a lot of people might be Reid Travis, because of the grad transfer thing, but just in terms of how he plays, who does he remind you of from who you guys have had here?

JOHN CALIPARI: To be honest he’s like a stretch 4, he shoots it, good with the ball. It’s nice having a veteran that talks. I mean he overtalks, he tries to get the guys to talk. He can play some 5, but if you play him at 5 you’re going to stretch the court with him as a 5 and probably post somebody else. But he’s good in the post. Reid was just a physical — Nate lost 25 pounds. So he’s at, what, 235 right now and physically in great shape and running and he’s really been a great addition to this group.

Q. All of us in here get another year older every year but yet the kids you recruit, kids you coach are forever 18. Curious how much, how has it changed through the years relating to players and have kids today really changed as much as old people like to say?

JOHN CALIPARI: So, you are old, Darrell (Bird), but, so — we, yeah, I have individual meetings with the guys and so part of it will be me asking them, what were you doing this summer, where did you go. I want them to talk about their families. And some of it will be, what did you do this summer to get better, what are you planning on, what do you need to add and the first veteran player said, I want to have a better relationship with you. Now I think I’m pretty much, you know, that. So I said, okay. And I said part of this is, this has got to be both of us. You can’t look at me like I’m this guy that’s — I said I only look at myself as I’m good at what I do, we’re different in how I do it. I don’t think I’m the greatest of all time, I’m good at what I do. You guys as players look at me as something that I’m not. You need to get me down and we got to do this together. So I talked to them and like that. So the next guy comes in, and how can I help you? I want to have a better relationship with you. So all the talking of individuals I think I’m doing, I got to do more. How do I bring myself, because they seem to hold me at a point that I don’t see myself. How do I come down to where they’re comfortable with how I’m coaching, what we’re doing, how — and they’re comfortable telling me, like, we did something and you won’t, there’s stuff — I forget things sometimes. So we were running an offense and then I started watching tape and it wasn’t how we were supposed to be running it. So I went in and I said, listen, we’re changing it, watch the tape, here it is, I saw it last night. And I looked at Ashton and I said, Ashton, you would have known this, why didn’t you say something. They’re still seeing me in something that I don’t see myself.

So part of it is kids need more affirmation, they need more time, they need to know that you really, you can really coach me, but I need to know you love me too. Has that changed? I don’t know, but in this group there were a bunch of guys that wanted that from me. Well, guess what, that’s what I got to give them then. It doesn’t mean I change how I coach, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be aggressive or tell a guy or — and I told them, look, you don’t dive on that floor, you don’t do this, you’re coming out.

In this group we had an unbelievable defensive session and these four guys defended so crazy, and I said, listen, if you come in the game and our defense goes down, what do you expect? They said, you should come out. Yeah, but then you got to call your people, well, I came out because I didn’t defend. Well somebody else didn’t defend, he didn’t take them out. This is when you got to grow up and be a man. This is where we’re all communicating together and knowing that if you lift this team, you’re staying in. If you’re bringing this thing down, you can’t be in there. I’m holding them accountable and it’s hard because they played every minute as a high school player and now they’re coming here? And they’re expected to win every game by 20, 25? And if they struggle the first game, we got beat by a hundred the first game? This is a group that won the national title? Still should have won the national title, had our chances, losing an overtime game where it’s on a clear path. This stuff here is real and in the recruiting process you tell them this is not for everybody. I’m not being arrogant, it’s not for everybody. And if you’re delusional, it’s hard to finish. If you don’t want to compete, don’t come here.

Q. What’s one thing you still don’t know about your team?

JOHN CALIPARI: Are we going to be physical enough? Because our defense on the ball should be unbelievable. I think we’re long enough that other positions, if you try to beat us to the rim, we can block shots. That’s the sign of a really good defensive team. Now, if you get roughed up, can you still play, can you still perform? Do we have the physical, mental toughness? And you’re juggling balls. Okay, so you work on that and you’re banging each other and you’re hitting, we got to get tougher. What happens? Somebody gets hurt then. Now you got 10 guys. Okay. We got seven for practice today. All right coaches, come on, I know you’re 58 but you can do this, come on. I mean you’re juggling balls.

So part of it is going to be in the games we got to get them to understand that we’re going to have to take this up a notch. So the main thing for me will be how do we rebound and how tough are we physically?

Q. Recognizing that you’re not quite up to speed with the California law and that your lifetime contract may be 20 years and not 20 minutes. What where do you see college sports evolving to when you’re done and what would you like to see it become?

JOHN CALIPARI: My biggest concern is that we minimize and diminish education. And the reason I say that, we’re so spoiled here. 70 percent of the players that come here get drafted. Do you hear what I just said? It’s the stupidest thing ever in the history of this game. Are you ready for this stupid statement? Of the 70 percent — you ready? 75 percent of those get to second contracts. We have two billion dollars in current contracts without shoe (contracts), without — do you understand that is not normal, like, this is kind of stupid. The reality of it is, players that have that opportunity to go, it’s one percent. So we’re going to do everything to make this about all the other stuff and diminish education. And all the kids that are benefiting are going to get away from that path. I think the kids should go right out of high school to the NBA. I got no problem. There should be five, six, seven, eight a year. Wait a minute, Coach, there will be 40. No, there won’t. They’re not good enough. I have coached the best players in the country the last 10 years and probably, if you ask me, I would say five or six of them were ready to go directly to the league. I coach the best players. So what happens to all these kids, thousands and thousands, that think they’re going directly to the league as ninth and tenth graders? They stop education and it’s their hope. It’s their one hope to make it. And then I ask you, what’s the demographic we’re talking about? What is the demographic we’re talking about? Who are the kids that we’re encouraging away from academics, and you’re going to be a professional, one percent make it. I get disappointed in the NCAA because I think they’re trying to push all this other way. It’s not the Players’ Association and the NBA. It seems like it’s the NCAA. Who in the NCAA? What coaches in the NCAA? And the NBA trying to push this narrative, I believe kids should go out of high school. But not planning on being in the G league for one or two years and then go do what you need to do. Well, wait a minute, what, I don’t have an education, there’s no hope, what do I do? That is my fear. And I want to be the guy that stood up on the mountain and said, listen, don’t change this for every kid for seven or eight. Let the seven or eight go. Maybe it’s four one year, maybe it’s ten. It’s never going to be 40 high school players in an NBA draft. Will not be. So how do we take care and not diminish education? That’s my only issue with all this stuff. And now we’re talking about agents in high schools, and we’re talking about stuff, again, our kids have lifetime education, lifetime scholarships here. If you come here, you have a lifetime scholarship. And then you’re going to say, well, who has come back? John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson. Keep talking to me. Terrence Jones. Who? Well you had Meeks and other guys come back and finish. But they can come back here and finish any time. Now they will say, well, if you go to the G league and fail, we’ll give you a scholarship. That’s fool’s gold because the kid as a ninth and tenth grader could care less about education, so, yeah, you’re giving him a scholarship, but he’s got to go to a trade school because he didn’t do any academic work because he was going right to the league and getting a big house and a watch. Let’s just come together and understand, let’s not — the highest graduation rate of basketball players ever in our sport, the highest graduation rate of African American basketball players in the history of our sport, do not throw — how do they do the baby with the bath water, bath water with the baby, what are we talking about there? Say it again.

Q. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

JOHN CALIPARI: That’s pretty good there. That’s my only concern with this. And let me say this: Kentucky will eat first. I don’t care what the — what it is, what it all looks like. Listen, I’ve said this before, if you’re a coach and you want to win the National Championship, get the Kentucky job because five guys have done it. Get the Kentucky job. Whoever is here, this program will eat first. It’s going to eat first. So whatever these rules are, if you think you’re hurting Kentucky, okay. You’re not. My point is, societal, what are we doing? And entertainment industry, that’s billions and billions is not worried about the society part of this. I think we as educators should be. Is that the end of this? No. Should I keep going?

Q. When Johnny Juzang takes the court, he will be the first player of Asian decent to play varsity ball for the University of Kentucky. I know you’ve said that you just don’t care — you care about people who can play but, what does somebody like him bring to the program? How significant of a milestone do you think that is?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well, you would have to ask him. For me, all these kids, there’s a couple things I don’t look at. I never look at their feet, what they have on their feet. And I never look at tattoos because I’m looking at their eyes. And by looking at their eyes, I don’t care if they’re black, brown, white, yellow, it doesn’t matter to me. Is he a good teammate, can he help us? When you hear their family story, you are rooting for this kid. When you hear the family story, I don’t care what his background is. When you hear the story, you want this kid to do well. And he has an inner fire and a fight in him and he’s skilled and he’s smart. Like, he’ll come in, and I said, what do you have to work on? And he’ll tell me, I got to do this better, I got to do this better, but I cannot get away from what I do shooting the ball. Thank you. Just thank you. We haven’t had that. Where we throw it to a guy and they can consistently — we know, they play zone, and he goes in, if he is open he’s letting it go. We haven’t had that. I had the first Latin backcourt in the history of the NCAA that went to a Final Four. I had the first Latin backcourt. What did it mean? It was great in Puerto Rico and the Dominican and all those things. I would say there’s going to be people across the country where their children are going to look up to Johnny Juzang. I believe that. But I’m, he’s here because he can really play basketball and he’s a great kid and a great teammate.

Q. Can you detail the progress and expectations for E.J. Montgomery this season?

JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, he’s physically stronger, he’s doing better, he’s more consistent with his skills. One of the things, I sat him down and we talked about was, understand that P.J. did all these things, but he changed his approach to this. P.J. finished first in every conditioning (drill). P.J. pushed himself physically. P.J. was a better leader. He wasn’t looking to what’s the least amount I can do, what’s the most I can do, can I do more, can I stay after, what can I do? A lot of this becomes changing your approach to this. And E.J.’s walking through that. But, at the end of the day what he does and how he plays, like, I was on him about free throws. We’re going to put the ball in your hands, you got to make free throws. And so there are things that’s got to be more consistent with, but he is a talent. Long, active, we saw him last year, we’re all saying how does E.J. get more time? What do we do to get E.J. more time? Well, guess what? He’s going to get more time.

Q. It felt like after last season you had to defend your success a little bit —

JOHN CALIPARI: Say that again.

Q. It felt like after last season you had to defend your success here a little bit, not getting to a Final Four. How does that sit with you? You still feel that?

JOHN CALIPARI: Did I have to do that?

Q. You did.


Q. Yes.


Q. With the fans.

JOHN CALIPARI: My wife was mad. I had to explain it to her, you don’t get to the Final Four every year. And there’s times buzzer-beaters knock you out in overtime games and you move on to the next group. But she didn’t understand. I’m like are you crazy? That’s how it is.

Q. But how does that sit with you, with the fan base? Are you okay with it never being enough?

JOHN CALIPARI: Look our fans are crazy and I love them, but please don’t take this wrong, I don’t listen to them. I don’t read it. Can I go Twitter, Facebook, I give you stuff and never look at anything that comes — not one thing, never in, since I’ve been here. Do I? If you write me a letter and it’s not addressed, it doesn’t even make my desk. It’s thrown away. If you have a letter, I’ll respond, and usually I handwrite it. But here’s what I do know about this position when you’re coaching here. If you’re worried about all that stuff, the clutter that’s out there, you can’t do this job, and you can’t be about the kids. You can’t. You’ll be under the desk in a fetal position. Your secretary will come in, where did he go? Coach, what are you doing under there? Come out of there. (Smiling) so, this is not one for the faint of heart, whether you’re playing here or coaching here. And that’s the first I heard anybody was mad that we haven’t done enough. Didn’t we —

Q. I thought they were all happy.

JOHN CALIPARI: I did too. I think, wait a minute, in 10 years did we win the most games? The most Final Fours? Elite 8s too? Oh wow. How about SEC titles?

Q. Got five of them.

JOHN CALIPARI: What about the tournament?

Q. Six.



JOHN CALIPARI: Hmm. So, and I’m saying the next 10 got to be better. And they’re saying it wasn’t enough? Whew.

Q. You mentioned earlier about Nate and how much he talks on the court. You’ve also got four returning players that you said, last year you struggled to get them to talk. Do you see that improving this year?

JOHN CALIPARI: He can help us. But there are times that I’ll say, Nate, don’t say one word. And then it’s crickets. Because he is so dominating with his voice, sometimes they get to where, we’ll all play off of him. You can’t do that. Not in these loud arenas. Everybody. But it’s one of the things young kids have to learn. But it’s nice to have him starting us.

Q. This scheduling. What do you think of the scheduling, how challenging is it, having Georgetown and K State on the schedule? What do you think about that and how it benefits Georgetown and K State playing you guys? And how it benefits your freshmen.

JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, what we’re trying to do with exhibition games is, normally — the one thing I know here with scheduling, whoever we play we’re helping. So we’re helping that school. So part of what you’re doing is, who do you want to help? And with Georgetown and Kentucky State, two great programs with great histories, we have done other schools in state. We have also Clarion, where I went. I mean, Indiana Pennsylvania, who almost beat us. Was that last year? Yeah, doesn’t even listen. That’s the greatest thing. Just listen for a minute when I’m talking, okay?


So, it helps them. And I think that’s an important thing of what we do here and how we try to do it.

Q. With the age of social media, how much do you pay attention to it to your players that are on the roster now and maybe guys you might be recruiting as well?

JOHN CALIPARI: I’m not on social media on that side, so these guys are, they have social media training. They’re followed by this staff, and if anybody is moving toward an area that they’re out of line, they will be told about it. And then we, again, counsel them, educate them, look, this is what you’re doing. My own son (Brad) re-tweeted stuff. Why did you re-tweet that? I didn’t tweet it. You re-tweeted it. It means you agree. Why would you re-tweet it? Oh, is that what it means? Yeah, that’s what it means. That’s my son. That’s why he’s at Detroit.


By the way, I’m talking to him every day, and the first practice kind of hit me, I’m not getting to coach him for the first time in three years. And, but he’s, his mother went up there and stayed five days with him and told her she could stay up there. That’s fine. And the Princess came back. (Smiling).

But he’s doing fine. And Mike sends me clips of him and stuff, so it’s hard, I mean, it is my baby. But he had a plan of what he wanted to do. And you think about it, these, the players that play with him all respected him because of how he worked and how he trained. The problem is he’s going against NBA guys every day. And he came from me. So it’s not like he’s — and he knew, look, eventually, I want to have a chance to play. And so let’s hope that he has that opportunity. I already went through our schedule and their schedule and there’s, like, 15 games I can make. I don’t think I’m going to make all 15, but I’ll make a bunch to go see him play. So if I get thrown out of a game early and he’s playing that night, you can kind of figure it out. You chase me out, they will say, look, he’s going to the airport. He’s trying to get out.

Q. I won’t re-tweet you anymore if that means I’m agreeing with you. Have you changed your philosophy in recruiting any as to how you’re offering scholarships, maybe when you decide to back off guys, that kind of thing?

JOHN CALIPARI: Look, here is — the guys will talk about integrity and we’re integrity and then you lie to kids. You tell them you’re going to start, you’re going to play this and you’re going to do that and you’re doing this and this and this.

The thing that I won’t do, is, I’m not changing our approach. I’m not going to offer 30 scholarships because they’re fake. What, am I taking 30 kids? So if I take these three I said, now you’re out. I mean, I’m not going to do that. We try to zero in — but I’m also not going to tell a kid, we’re only recruiting you at your position and you’re it and this is what we do. Because later you take another kid that’s just like him and this kid becomes your fourth leading scorer, when he was supposed to be your — I’m not going to do it. We took John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. How did that work? How did it work for those two? We had all kind of big guys with Karl Towns and all the guys we had, three of the four in the NBA. And Dakari is making four million a year over in China. I mean it worked for everybody.

So I’m not going to go down that road, we have adjusted some things how we do it, just because there’s become a narrative, because we’re not trying to recruit ninth and tenth graders, a narrative about what Kentucky is and what I am, before we start to get in there. So we have adjusted in what we’re doing a little bit, but the reality of it is, not going to lie to kids, I’m not going to paint a picture that’s not true and then say, it’s an integrity, I’m about integrity. I’m not going to do that. I’m just not.

So has it hurt us in recruiting some? Maybe. But you know what? We got Shai Alexander instead. And we got Jamal Murray instead. It works out. I don’t know if it’s good karma, but it works. So we’re staying this course, somebody says the same thing every year, how in the world do you get all these new guys to come together and be a good team by the end of the year when they never passed it, they never, they were about — how do you do it? Well it starts with, did you lie to them in recruiting or did you tell them the truth. Are they good kids. We can’t — look, there’s a path that these kids walk before they leave here and the path is this program and this stage. Don’t muddy up the stage for the next family. That means in the recruiting process how I do this, if a kid’s not made for this or he’s not going to do — you can’t be here. It affects too much other things. And I’m not changing that.

And if we lose some kids because of that, okay. But I feel good, I feel good about the staff and how we’re approaching this and when it’s time to offer scholarships we do. There are many kids that, coach, are you going to offer me a scholarship? I said, are you ready to commit? Oh, no, I just need to have the hats and shit, I need to — what? What are you talking about? I mean what happened? What did I say?

Q. You kind of stole my thunder a little bit ago I was going to ask you about Brad because I’m sure that’s an adjustment for you not having your son anymore. But has your wife forgiven you yet and it sound like she hasn’t for not playing him at all. And then also Tyrese Maxey if you watch him on social media, he’s constantly smiling. That’s got to be intoxicating, it’s intoxicating to me, it’s got to be intoxicating to his teammates. Is that kind of growing off of the, onto the teammates as well, because it seemed like he’s always having fun.

JOHN CALIPARI: Well we’ll talk about Tyrese. Really, really a kid that I watched in high school and I said he could be a triple double. Because he can rebound, he can pass it, he can score, he can steal balls, I mean there’s a lot of things he does. And there will have to be a point where he’s got to step up and do the things he’s capable of doing. I like how he’s gone through this right now and he and Ashton are going at it and there are times I’m playing them together, because they’re going to be playing together a lot. But he’s kind of like Jamal and if you want to compare them, I would say it would probably be Jamal as much as anybody else, who — again, we don’t have volume shooters here that take 28 shots a game. It just won’t happen. We got too many other players. But it doesn’t mean they don’t leave here and become volume shooters in the NBA. We got seven of those. You don’t have to be on the ball to play on the ball in the NBA. We’re teaching you how to play basketball, how to play away from the ball, how to play off screens. So more of a Jamal Murray. Do you remember where we put him on the baseline and put him in positions to score it and do things? But he’s also really good in pick and roll.

So we got to figure things out. I told them, it’s funny, I was putting together practice plans and last year the beginning of the practices we were working on three offenses that by January we weren’t running any more.

So we were working on stuff that I thought would be good for that team and the more we went I said, that stuff’s not going to work. So some of the stuff, I told them, there’s things we’re doing right now that we all may look at each other and say, this isn’t good for our team, and we end up changing. But he’s doing good and Ellen has always been — does anybody follow her on Instagram? Raise your hand if you do. I cancelled that. I cancelled it. So her whole thing is to — how can I say– like attack me? Is that a good way?

Q. That’s your words, not mine.


JOHN CALIPARI: Okay. But I’m proud of her. I mean, she was kind of engulfed in the profession and her kids and now she’s kind of stepping out and has her own voice. And I want her to have her own voice. And I don’t mind that she pokes fun at me, none of it is true, so, you know, you can believe it, but, you know, she — but she’s going to miss her son. She will probably be to more of his games than I will.

Q. Regardless of the California thing I think your own record multiple times saying it, in some way or another you think players should be able to profit from their name, image and likeness. Do you have some rough idea in your head of how that should look?

JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t, I don’t, because I got to read the California law first and say what exactly does it say.

Q. But you do think that in some form —

JOHN CALIPARI: Anything that we can do to make it better for players. I’ve said that — how many years have I been coaching?

Q. 30 something if you count your NBA tie.

JOHN CALIPARI: No, they fired me. But I would say, how do we do this to make it better for athletes. But I’m going to say this again: Don’t worry about the eight guys. Don’t, let’s move on and say, how do we do this? And I think, again, that as all this comes out, I’ll have a fuller view, that I’ll have a better opinion. Right now I’m just going to be honest, I don’t even — I don’t, because I don’t know what that law says or what they’re trying to move to. I don’t know what the options are. And just focus on anything we do, in anything there’s always unintended consequences. So you say — I’ll give you an example. They were saying that we as coaches thought that kids should be able to leave one time and transfer whenever they want, one time, and not have any penalty. Only once. But you can do it after your freshman year one time.

Now you think about that and it sounds pretty good, right? Would you say? Like, yeah, that’s kind of fair.

Let me tell you the unintended consequence. You’re now at St. Joseph’s, you’re at UMass, you’re at — and you get a freshman and he plays well. Oh, he’s gone. And he’s gone because he doesn’t have to sit out and he’s going there.

So you become, now all of us are just recruiting those kids. You take that kid, who do we take after one year and they don’t have to sit out, they’re part of it. And I went, uh-oh, we don’t want to do that. But the first thing is I’m for that and then somebody else chimed in and I go, yeah.

Now, if you care about the game and you care about all of the coaches in this, please let’s not go to that.

Q. If this rule was already in place who do you think would have been the most marketable guy you had here, if he could have been doing car dealer ads or whatever?

JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know. I mean, shoot, we have had so many — you think about it, we got — there’s been 22 max contracts in the NBA the last 10 years. 22. Our guys have had seven of them. And that’s before some of the guys coming up with the De’Aaron Fox and, like what are you talking about? Please just understand, this is like fantasy land, this stuff that’s happening right now. And that’s — but again, until it all comes out, hey, and you people that know me know, I will have an opinion, but I make it where it’s educated first, that I know what I’m talking about.

Q. Did you get Ellen the automatic trash can that you tweeted about?

JOHN CALIPARI: The automatic trash can, it was unbelievable, you just see this thing go right down and then it goes and parks and it opens. It’s unbelievable.

And I also, when we were at UMass, just so, you know, she was — it snowed. So she was shoveling and we had gravel. So I blacktopped it so that she could shovel easier (smiling).


You have to think of your wife. I mean you have to.

Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett is a life long Kentucky fan that, after 25 years in the medical device industry, is now the host of Just the Cats– a UK sports talk radio show. The sporting events that he has covered have been the fulfillment of a dream of his for many years. Covering UK as a media member while getting an inside look at our beloved Wildcats is nothing short of amazing. If you would like to connect with Michael follow him on Twitter @justthecatradio.

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