Could Calipari really be disappointed if UK won title yet no player was drafted?

John Calipari wants to win, but also wants to get players drafted. (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Calipari wants to win, but also wants to get players drafted. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Not once has John Calipari ever tried to hide his belief that getting players drafted to help them secure their financial future is his primary focus.

During Thursday’s  Media Day, Calipari risked infuriating Kentucky fans again by saying the draft was more important to him than a national title.

“If you want to pin that on me, I’ll take it. We all know it’s not true because we’ve won more games than any team in the country the last seven years, we’ve been to more Final Fours than any team in the country,” said Calipari. “We won one national title. Probably should have won three or four, but we won a national title.

“In our league, we’ve done what we’ve done every year. 

I’m happy with what’s happening on the basketball court, but I’m more happy about what’s happening for these kids. If my team won a national title and no one got drafted, I’d be disappointed.

“Oh, that will just rifle through our state. I would be disappointed.”

Boom. That’s not what UK fans wanted to hear a few years ago and certainly not what most will want to hear now.

That’s why I asked Calipari if he wanted to clarify his disappointment about a national title and if he really would be totally disappointed if UK won a national title and nobody got drafted,

“The question is would I be totally disappointed?

” Calipari asked.

I said it was just to let him clarify what he meant.

“Now you’re mincing words. You’re putting words … Look, I would enjoy the fact that I had a team that won a national title, but I would be disappointed that none of the kids got drafted because that’s not how it’s supposed to work,” Calipari said.

“Everybody should benefit by the success of this program — everybody. The fans, the university, the athletic department, the assistant coaches — everybody should benefit when things like that happen. And then not the players? No, they should benefit just as well.
”

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  1. I have tried to resist taking the bait on this, but I can’t resist any longer. I am disappointed when my team fails to win the national title despite having the best team in the country only to see my team decimated from the parade of kids from the program into the NBA draft. I have absolutely no problem with an exodus of players following the securing a national title, but the opposite does not seem to place any importance on the need of the program to get the title.

    Goal 1 every season should be to win the national title. That will yield all the NBA draft picks that Calipari could ever want, and probably more.

    Sorry for taking the bait.

  2. If they won a national title, but no one got drafted, that would not be the end of the world as I see it. It would be good for UK basketball and their fans. By the way, the fans pay the bills and will be here long after Calipari has moved on. The players probably eventually get drafted anyway, at least most of them. This basketball deal at UK was never supposed to be a one year farm team for the pros was it? I always thought it was about earning a college education for free, while playing basketball for the best. This is not about Calipari, or the one and done players every year suddenly becoming millionaries. If that happens again this year, fine. I will rejoice with them. That said, UK basketball is about winning tradition, and that to me transcends all. Just maybe if they would all stick around for four years like many in our past have, we could all remember their lasts names before they leave for the NBA after one year, or two. Maybe they could even win three or four NC’s in a row and pass UCLA forever making Calipari a coaching legend. Tell me he don’t want that. It would sure be alright with me.

  3. This is all a moot point anyway. It’s a red herring if I ever saw one. No team wins a title and then doesn’t have anyone get drafted. You can’t win a title without someone being draft worthy for one thing. The second thing is pro teams live and die by fan appeal and that means anyone who’s built a name by doing well in the tournament is going to get drafted even if they really may not deserve it.

    Let’s look at UK’s last championship team. How many are still in the pros? AD of course. Patterson, Terrence Jones, MKG. and the undrafted Kyle Wiltjer – those are the only remaining players in the NBA. Of those Kyle is still being assessed. Patterson was not a one year player and neither was Jones. So that only leaves 2 one and done players and they were pretty special. But 6 players from that team were drafted. Lamb, Miller, and Teague are all out of the NBA now. So did they really “deserve” to be drafted? Clearly they were not NBA material because they are now not playing in the NBA. They were drafted largely because of that title and the name recognition it gave them.

    How long did it take before people realized the talent of Curry? Compare that to someone like Davis who was instantly called a superstar. Which was truly better? Maybe that remains to be seen but one has two MVP titles and a NBA title to go with it and it isn’t Davis. Curry was drafted #7 overall. AD was #1 his year. AD won a title. Curry didn’t. Surely that entered into the draft level of the two. Winning a title is going to get you drafted even if you clearly aren’t an NBA level talent. That’s just true.

    So we’re arguing the chicken and egg thing here IMO. It doesn’t matter what Cal said. It matters what kind of team he puts on the floor and whether he wins titles and yes whether he gets kids drafted. That’s not his primary job as UK coach according to tradition but maybe tradition is messed up here. Maybe getting his players paid millions is more important. I’d like to think my professors thought about how to get me paid when I was being educated. Why is it wrong for Cal to do that?

    Professor this was indeed bait you know. It’s been a slow news period for the Cats so Cal decided to grab some attention again. He’s a master at it. So repeat a controversial phrase and bada boom, bada bing you have a story in the news. That’s part of his job too.

    Please don’t fall for the media’s obsession with getting rid of Cal (not you Larry – we know you just gave him a forum to elaborate in case he wanted to). They would love to see him out of Lexington. Personally I couldn’t possibly think of a more stupid thing to do than to fire the guy because he said what he really thinks instead of what the coach’s handbook says he should say.

    1. King, I agree with you in what you are saying, but just one fact needs to be corrected. Patrick Patterson wasn’t on the 2012 championship team. He was on the 2010 team.

  4. I don’t see that happening with the talent. Teams will take a chance. Look at Anthony Davis, MKG, Terrence Jones.

  5. It”s not t always he best talent players win the dance, it takes the way the ball bounces and luck of the draw and the way the officials calling it a

    1. I agree with that but players from winning teams get drafted just because they won.

  6. Bottom line is, Its been one heck of a run under Cal, and certainly more fun that the previous 2 stretches. SO it isn’t perfect, but Cal is on the leading edge of the way things are headed. And he has given , like it or not, a new UK legacy that will be referred to 40 yrs from now.
    Before you say it, I know we need to add another one. That’s not the point.
    The point is, I am damn proud of what he has done. And the kids success’ have been apparent. Even the guys who don[t make it are far better off than they were, and still eligible to re enter school when they want.
    To me? Cal has done well. Its a game of odds and odds are, the more times your in the final four the more wins you’ll get.
    I see Cal getting 2 more y’all,just relax and look at the big picture.
    Those are really impressive numbers when he talks about changing lives and accumulated wealth of $500 million!!!!

    1. Juan you have it nailed down. Cal has brought a brand of basketball to the bluegrass that we haven’t really seen in a long time. There were super teams along the way but the string of #1 draft picks is something UK had not done before Cal. Those are just a by-product of putting a really talented set of players on the floor. They came very close to a perfect season. That alone is nothing short of amazing even if they did fail to win it all. That team had too much talent. Think about it. Towns and Booker are both bona fide stars in the NBA already. Ulis was just getting rolling but he was already a great player. The twins did a lot for UK and they took them to a title game no one thought would happen. WCS, Lyles, and a player named Willis who couldn’t even crack the second string. What’s with that kind of talent? And this during a period of players leaving early if they are talented. Simply amazing what happened that year.

      When I think about the decade before Cal and then I think about how fast he turned that all around I just want to send him a thank you card with some money in it. He is a very special coach on par with Rupp IMO. If he had been at UK for his entire career who thinks he wouldn’t have more titles? Rupp was with UK for 42 years. And Cal is matching his winning percentage exactly. And that is much harder today than it was when the SEC thought of basketball as winter conditioning for football players.

      Cal is an amazing coach and he can stay as long as he wants IMO. He’s already earned that.

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