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By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s putting players at all position into the NBA regularly. He continues to recruit better than any coach in the nation. And he has Kentucky winning and contending for a national championship every season.
John Calipari has it all going so well at Kentucky that UK fans really only have one fear — he might decide he would like a chance to coach in the NBA again.
Calipari certainly has connections to the league. He was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, is friends with LeBron James and has had two No. 1 draft picks — John Wall and Anthony Davis — in the last three years.
Recently Mike Wise of 106.7 (FM) the Fan in Washington D.C. asked Calipari if he ever thought about going back to the NBA. He said no.
“If I wasn’t at Kentucky then maybe but I’m in a job where I have more impact on families. I can’t begin to tell you. It’s changed even how I look at what I do. I don’t even look at myself as a coach anymore, I look at myself as a person who is truly a servant leader, who has been put in a position that at the end of my days if I can sit down and I’m on a bed and I look around and say 80 families or 90 families the generational cycle for them has been changed and we played a small part in that, is that worth 10 national titles?” Calipari told Wise.
“I’m not saying I’m the best or I’m the only way to get to the NBA or I have magic wands, I don’t, John Wall will tell you, I don’t promise starting positions, minutes, shots and I don’t say any of that. I say it’s the hardest place you can go but I will look after you. You will be part of my family, I’m not going to throw you under the bus, I’m going to be there for you but you’re going to change if you’re not doing right. That’s the way we approach it here and I’m really happy.”
Chris Woolard, associate athletics director of basketball operations, doesn’t think Calipari will be leaving for the NBA or any other job.
“I really do think this will be Cal’s last stop. He and his family really enjoy it here,” Woolard told the Louisville Quarterback Club during a recent talk. “He loves being the coach at Kentucky and what it allows him to do outside basketball. I think right now with the way things are going with facilities, the support he has in place and the way recruits are excited about coming here, he feels he should be in the mix fo the No. 1 recruiting class every year and should be in the mix to compete for a national title every year.
“He loves it here. He does not talk about the NBA. Some people in the media talk about him going back to the NBA to prove himself. I don’t agree. I think he would love to finish his career here and do everything he can to win a few more championships. I truly think this will be his last coaching stop.”
Don’t worry about the magnitude of UK basketball overwhelming him even if Calipari continues to spend offseason time coaching like he has done with the Dominican Republic national team.
Woolard jokes all UK basketball staff members suggest Calipari enjoy some down time because “it makes our lives better” if he does that.
“But he is a guy that can’t stand down time,” Woolard said. “He has to always be going. It is always what is next for him with whatever we are doing. He is trying to always figure out how do we make it better. He likes to tinker and do things with the summer team that he may do the next year with his team. He never quits looking ahead or working. That’s just the way he is and why being at a place like Kentucky where basketball is so important is perfect for him.”