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Paul Biancardi was impressed with how John Calipari was able to put together such a talented recruiting class only a few months after arriving at Kentucky a year ago.

“I thought what he did lat year was brilliant and a minor miracle,” said Biancardi, a former college basketball coach and now ESPNU’s national director of recruiting. “When changing jobs it is so hard. You have to try to keep the players you have from transferring, go meet the team and hope none leave. You have to speak to recruits that were already signed and then find new recruits.

“He had just got hired at Kentucky where everybody wanted to hear him talk and speak. But he came up with a tremendous class with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe and managed to keep Daniel Orton as well as get Patrick Patterson to come back. It was remarkable.”

That’s why Biancardi says he’s not surprised at all with how well Calipari’s recruiting is going this year. He’s signed Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter, two of the nation’s top players, along with Doron Lamb and Stacey Poole, two more top 50 players. He’s also got verbal commitments from two of the nation’s top juniors, Michael Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.

“Now that he has been there a year and shown what a great coach he is on the court and the way he can develop players, it’s very interesting to recruits. They look at the way he coaches and develops players and they envision being in that same position where they have a chance to make an impact as a freshman like Wall and Cousins did,” Biancardi said.

Biancardi says Calipari doesn’t get enough credit for developing players like he has and that too many assume Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Wall and Cousins were so talented that Calipari’s coaching didn’t help them.

“You read about him, you read about the school and you read about the recruits, but you do not read about all the hours he puts in developing players. The hours on individual workouts from September to the end of the school year,” Biancardi said. “He has year-round strength and conditioning work, video work. Those are not sexy topics to write about or read about, but that’s the nuts and bolts of what he does daily.”

Biancardi recalls how Calipari started as a camp instructor and enjoys instruction. He also thinks John Robic, a former head coach, is a valuable assistant for Calipari and that both assistants Orlando Antigua and Rod Strickland relate well to players and are good teachers.

“Then nobody talks about what a good defensive coach Cal is. Look at Cal’s teams and they have all been successful because they ahve a demanding defensive presence. He’s one of the best at that,” Biancardi said. “He really preaches defense. He takes talented players and makes them defend. That’s the sign of an excellent teacher.”

But there’s more to Calipari that brings top talent to him.

“He’s good with kids. Cal cares and they know it,” Biancardi said. “He cares about their development and success as well as the team’s development and success. He has that rare ability to satisfy both, something not many coaches can do.

“We yell at our children. But when we are teaching them, we have to sometimes be tough to make a point. Every coach yells, but the difference with Cal’s players is that he knows he cares about them as much as the team’s development. That’s a rare combination. It’s one of many things that makes him so great.”

26 Responses to ESPNU’s Biancardi not surprised at level of Cal’s recruiting

  • Andy P. says:

    I think Calipari is a rare individual with outstanding personal traits. It’s unfortunate that he gets lumped in with Pitino and suffers from the association.

    I think all this “interest in coaching in the NBA” talk is utter nonsense.

  • UKFMLY says:

    I have to admit that coach Cal was NEVER on my list to replace bg. All I knew was the negative stuff I had heard. A good friend of mine said right after we let go of bg that we would hire Cal but it was really a dig at Cal.

    That said I AM SO GLAD I’M NOT ON THE UK BOARD OR WAS NOT ASKED MY OPINION. Wow was I wrong. I was way wrong! ! He is a great recruiter and teacher. He knows how to sell the program to recruits and the world(China).

    I also believe that he is going to use UK to prove his detracttors wrong. Whether he finishes his career here or moves on to the NBA he will not leave UK in NCAA trouble. Like any family man he does not want his children to have to defend his reputation(we all know kids can be brutal).

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. GO BLUE AND MAKE A STRANGER SMILE!

  • BarryRussell says:

    Terrence Jones should pay attention to Mr. Biancardi.

  • whatupcup? says:

    Cal is a good teacher. my issue with him is that he only knows one way to teach(by cursing his kids out). Sure it works for some, but for others it isnt the best way to get through. To each his own though. As a parent, Im not sure I want my kid cursed out for traveling.

  • Nashville Cat says:

    Cal wanting to coach in the NBA is not nonsense. It is a very real thing we are going to have to deal with every single off season. And it is more than likely going to happen one day. Hopefully that day will be after 2-4 championships.

    What I dont get is, even though yes, his background is sketchy at best, what he does is amazing, I dont get exactly where all the hate comes from. I hope Duke burns down and K is in the unemployment line, but he is an amazing coach and does great things. I dont see anyone admitting (except for Cal supporters) that he does wonderful things and is a good coach.

    Having Cal as our coach has really made me rethink the way that I view and talk about other coaches, players, and schools. Except Duke. Screw them.

  • Andy P. says:

    Taking a NBA job made sense for Cal 15 years ago. The NBA is player dominated. College basketball is coach dominated. When you’ve risen in your profession to the point where you make millions of dollars a year, have more money invested than you could ever spend, the quality of your life and your reputation become far more important, as they should. Cal can prove all his detractors wrong by winning big over a long period of time here at UK and end up in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, that’s what drives him, not sitting on a bench drawing a paycheck and watching a Kobe type do their thing. I’m not sure there is a more worthless position in sports than a “coach” in the NBA. It’s a joke.

  • larryvaught says:

    I think Cal’s name will be linked with NBA jobs about every year just like Pitino was. however, I don’t think he will make the mistake that Pitino did. He knows he is in heaven at kentucky right now

  • UKFANinCO says:

    Amen Larry, AMEN!!!

  • Nashville Cat says:

    I hope so.

  • Katwatcher says:

    Paul Biancardi doesn’t think Calipari gets enough credit for developing players. Calipari does good job with players, but nothing outstanding that other coaches don’t do.

    Only having 6 NBA picks up until 2009 is not that impressive.

    When you are given the reins to provide openings for the elite players like last year, it not that hard to fill roster with good players especially when they are promised starting positions and all the playing time they want. That is basically what happened.

    3 0f his starters were projected to go in first round of draft and a maybe for the other 2. So saying that he developed them is a stretch.

  • Ken says:

    People hate winners and we have a winner in John Calipari.I find it funny that the haters at Duke even have the gumption to talk about doing wrong.Have they forgotten the Maggette mess they never got punished for?Marcus Camby IS the reason UMass had to vacate that final 4.Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows all about that.As for Memphis,they got screwed by the NCAA pure and simple.The NCAA clearinghouse cleared Rose twice,thats right 2 times and yet they punish a school because the NCAA was the one who messed up.Again,how can one blame Calipari?Rose was eligible by everyone’s account and why did Kansas not suffer?They also had an inelgible player on the court during that National title game but the NCAA can’t take away a National title because you can’t have a vacated title,oh the shame of that…..Calipari wins and he will keep winning.He will coach us to that National title we all want because he is like us,he wants it probably more.

  • Katwatcher says:

    Reply to Ken: I think you have that wrong. People hate losers, like winners. You are not presenting the Rose episode correctly.

    The question was not whether Calipari had anything to do with it, it was his comment that he did not know anything was wrong with Rose’s test score and who gave it. The school {Memphis] was notified about the irregulars.

    You say Rose was cleared to play two times by NCAA clearinghouse, and the third time they said he was ineligible. Just because he is cleared, that does not give him a lifetime pass. The school and coaching staff has to be more responsible then they appeared to be. In other words they played him at their own risk. What some other school did or did not get penalized is not relevant.

    One last lingering question. Why did’t Rose cooperate with the NCAA?. If he did nothing wrong, he could have saved coach and school much distress by simply comimg forward and answered some questions.

  • larry vaught says:

    nice debate there guys. Opinions are something we all have and you both make your cases very well

  • Ken says:

    Katwatcher-When the NCAA did find something wrong with Rose’s scores,they sent the first notice to an address that was no longer useful,thus he never recieved the notice from the NCAA…Second,the NCAA didn’t notify Rose of his eligibilty until after the NCAA title game and season were over,thus how can he come forth when at the time he didn’t know that the NCAA had ruled him ineligible…..Third,it does matter if another school uses a player that isn’t eligible.Why does one get punished and it’s coach left out in the cold and another school reap a national title by using an ineligible player.You can’t have double standards there bud….Fourth,Cal wasn’t with Rose when he took his ACT.Memphis officials and the NCAA both said he was eligible.

  • Katwatcher says:

    Ken, you are saying that the NCAA did find something wrong with Rose’s test score. You also mentioned how the NCAA sent first notice to address that was not useful.

    Did you ever stop to think maybe Rose didn’t want to receive notice.? And how does a coach or school that is recruiting a 5 star player and not know these things.

    If the NCAA had problems in finding Rose’s address, how can they be held accountable for him receiving any information. Thus the reason it was after the NCAA Title was over.

    Bringing up other cases that involved enigible players at other schools has no bearing whatsoever on this particular case. I’m not defending he NCAA, just pointing out that the coach or school saying they knew nothing of Rose’s test score problems is not a legitimate excuse. Your # 4 comment is very interesting to say the least. It seems that no one was present for his test, maybe even Rose himself.

    Actually its still not too late for Rose to come forward and take away the accusations thrown at his coach and school by giving the NCAA the information they seek, if he has no problem with the way his test scores were handled. There were more double standards used in your reply trying to rectify Rose, his coach, and school than the NCAA used.

  • Andy P. says:

    Katwatcher, don’t let any facts get in the way of your argument. Your agenda is clear.

  • Ken says:

    No Katwatcher,I have no double standards to use to uphold Calipari or Rose.Perhaps if you would really do some research you would see that the facts are simple.Rose took his ACT test.That ACT test score showed Rose to be eligible.The NCAA clearinghouse cleared Rose to be eligible.Memphis officials sent notice back to the clearinghouse and once again,the clearinghouse said Rose was good to go.Now to make it simple for you,Memphis did what they were susposed to do and since the NCAA said he was eligible,they let him play.Now, the NCAA later sent Rose a notice to his old address that he no longer lived at telling him that he may be ineligible to play.Rose NEVER got that notification and the NCAA seen no need to contact him at Memphis despite the fact that Memphis was getting ready to play in the NCAA tourney….get it,nothing said at the moment.AFTER,the NCAA tourney and season was over,Rose and Memphis get notification that Rose was ineligible DESPITE the fact that he played an entire season being eligible by the same NCAA that now says he wasn’t eligible….It’s hogwash and a screw job,pure and simple.Again,Calipari had no reason and Memphis had no reason NOT to play the kid afterall,he was eligible to play so why not play him.It’s not that hard to figure out.How in the world you and others blame Calipari for this is baffling me.I mean seriously,it’s one thing to dislike or hate the guy but geezz,don’t accuse or insinuate that he is to blame in any way here because your argument is clueless and pathetic.

  • larry vaught says:

    I have to agree with Ken on this. How could you blame anyone for playing a player that was cleared by the NCAA to play. Any coach in America would have done the same thing. It’s okay to throw stones at Cal — I have hurled a few myself — but on this instance I don’t see how he can be at fault when the NCAA reversed its own finding

  • Andy P. says:

    But don’t you see, Katwatcher is convinced that Calipari orchastrated some mystery person taking the test for Rose. I’m sure, if pressed, Katwatcher would also admit that he is convinced that Calipari lined up the agent that was slipping money to Marcus Camby. He can’t wrap his mind around the fact that Calipari was the one who notified the NCAA when he found out what Camby was doing. You can talk and write until you are blue in the face, but you will never change the minds of the Katwatcher types.

  • Katwatcher says:

    Reply to Andy P. Andy, you are so wrong. I do not believe that Cal orchestrated some mystery person to take test for Rose. I have never said that or even thought it. Why do you make things up. Can’t we have a conservation without making up stuff.

    I have made the comment seveeral times I though Cal knew nothing of this. Yes I am well aware that Cal notified the NCAA about this.

    Yes, you can probably write till you are blue in the face, and you will not change my mind. You have problems getting anything correct in your post. You accused me of two different things and they were both lies. You have problems with reading comprehension because you can’t show me where I said those things. You don’t have to make up stuff to impress your buddies. Try telling it like it is for once. I will say this again for you so you don’t misunderstand. Calipari and the school should be more aware of whats going on. A five star recruit was having problems with test score and no one knew anything about it. Come on.

  • Ken says:

    Again,how can John Calipari and the University of Memphis be more aware?My goodness,the kid passed his ACT according to standards set forth by the NCAA and was declared eligible.What more did they have to do?Rose obviously was passing his courses at Memphis or else he wouldn’t have been playing in the first place.Well,people I’m done with this.Nobody is gonna change my view on this subject because I find absolutely NO evidence that Memphis did anything wrong and Coach Calipari shouldn’t even be brought into the discussion anyway.I just find it funny that one school is blacklisted and a coach is disgraced while another school who had the same problem ended up getting a pat on the back.Sorry,I’m just not into double standards.Go Cats and GO COACH CALIPARI,I’m proud he is our coach.

  • Katbluefan says:

    I have really enjoyed reading the comments here between Katwatcher, Ken, Larry, Andy. I would like to say something. I have to agree with Andy when he said that Katwatcher’s mind was made up and Coach Cal had something to do with Rose not taking the test for himself. Now to explain why I feel that way, If you read what Katwatcher writes about Cal and really think about it you can see the total dislike he has for him and nothing that is said will change his mind. I can understand why K-watcher feels that way because I have that feeling for Bobby Knight. In other words if Knight was on fire, I would throw gas on him not water. Knight is an abuser, he hit his players, he hit Joe Hall, former coach of UK, so it’s a difference between Coach Cal & Knight

  • Katwatcher says:

    Katbluefan: I am glad you enjoyed the debate with Ken. Larry, Andy and myself. I want to commend all of them in the way they handled themselves.

    All made some good points and I respect their opinions. Usually you get called a moron- stupid etc. but they were good sports.

    I do want to correct one thing that was said in my behalf, I don’t dislike Calipari. but I do disagree with the way he has handled some things. Gosh, no one is perfect, and I feel its not right to withhold your opinion if you feel strongly about it. I had a fun time with it and hope to debate again with those fellows.

  • larryvaught says:

    Well put KatWatcher

  • DisplacedCat says:

    Nothing like being tried in the court of public opinion, huh guys?

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