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By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari is going to his second straight Final Four at Kentucky and has been to the Elite Eight three straight times. Two of the last three years his team won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and twice the Cats won the SEC Tournament.
For those wondering about Calipari’s philosophy of recruiting top talent that will leave UK early for the NBA draft, that should be proof that Calipari’s way can work. However, the UK coach knows as the Wildcats get set for the Final Four again, the doubters won’t go away.
“There’s some opinions that will never change, and I’m not trying to change them.Â All I’m trying to do is coach these young people.Â I’m trying to do the best job I can for each of these kids and their families to make sure that we’re being fair and that we’re challenging them and that they’re getting all the help they need in the academic areas and the training areas,” Calipari said after Sunday’s win over Baylor. “And then at the end of the year, right now, you could tell it’s all about our team.Â At the end of the year, it’s going to be about each individual player and their family and what’s best for them.
“There’s some people that think I should convince these guys to stay in school when the numbers say they should leave.Â I just won’t do it.Â I won’t do it.Â I want to help these kids reach their dreams.Â I don’t like the rule.Â I don’t like one and done.Â I don’t think it’s good for college players, high school players, pro players.Â It’s not a good rule.
“How about this?Â It’s not my rule.Â But the only thing I can do is recruit the best players, the best students who go to class.Â We had a 3.0 grade point average this term.Â We have the highest APR in the SEC.Â But at the end of the year, Brandon Knight, a 4.0 student with 60 college credits, I had to tell him, you’re the seventh pick in the draft.Â He was a great student.Â He didn’t come to play basketball.Â He was a student, but he was reaching his dreams.
“I don’t know if people will be happy or sad.Â I’ll be honest with you:Â I really don’t care.”