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By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari acted liked he accidentally let the information slip out Ã¢â‚¬â€ but we all know better. Calipari doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make those kind of mistakes.
So when the Kentucky coach was asked after the Indiana game how he had been successful taking Ã¢â‚¬Å“one-and-doneÃ¢â‚¬Â players, he let it slip that freshman superstar John Wall had Ã¢â‚¬Å“around a 3.8Ã¢â‚¬Â grade-point average and then said he was Ã¢â‚¬Å“not supposedÃ¢â‚¬Â to talk about academics after noting again how Wall had not missed a class or tutoring session this semester. He later threw in that Wall wanted to take extra classes next semester.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If he does leave (for the NBA), he wants to come back and finish up (his degree),Ã¢â‚¬Â the Kentucky coach said.
Wall is leaving. Barring a serious injury, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone Ã¢â‚¬â€ and should be. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably better than at least half the starting NBA point guards today and in two years will be on the of the leagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elite players.
Still, one does wonder why Calipari has been so successful with players who have spent just one year in college and then become NBA stars.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The first thing is they are talented enough to do it. I was in the NBA and understand it is about scoring the ball,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari, who was head coach of the New Jersey Nets before going to Memphis and eventually Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is not about having a point guard get 19 assists. You have to score. At times you may say John (Wall) is selfish and I wish on one or two plays he had passed, but I want him to score.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The other thing is we play man to man. We do stunts. The terminology is the same. I am not saying I am the only guy that does it. But it has never hurt us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Former Kentucky coach Joe Hall, who has been embraced by Calipari, sees no way having Wall this year and then losing him to the NBA is anything but good for the Kentucky basketball program.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look at what he has done for this program already. He is a big part of the excitement that surrounds the Kentucky team this year. John Calipari will continue to have players of that caliber, even if they are one-and-done. They are exciting and make Kentucky exciting and make recruiting that much easier. To me, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a problem. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a luxury.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Indiana coach Tom Crean says what Calipari does has not worked for some.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“John is very good at recruiting those guys and replacing them year after year. If you do that, it works. Look around and some get players for one or two years and they can not replace them. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where the risk and reward comes in.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But from what I have seen of John Wall, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all reward and no risk.