By LARRY VAUGHT
Dick Weiss is unique not because of the storied career he’s had covering college basketball, but because he’s one of the few media members who can call both John Calipari and Rick Pitino friends. Both coaches respect him and he often has unique insights into the coaches and their programs at Kentucky and Louisville.
He was the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina last week when both Calipari and Pitino were there to watch numerous potential recruits play.
Weiss agrees that Kentucky’s NIT first-round loss coupled with Louisville’s national championship last season one year after the Wildcats won the 2012 national title has “revitalized” Calipari and his passion for winning.
“He didn’t like that team last year. He hated that (Ryan) Harrow wasn’t the point guard he needed. He hated sitting on the sidelines in March. He was a victim of no experienced players,” said Weiss. “No one saw Cal in Lexington when Louisville played NCAA games in Rupp Arena.”
Weiss sees Calipari putting his talented recruiting class through the same kind of summer bonding that the Anthony Davis-Marquis Teague-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist group did two years ago.
“He has them enrolled in summer school and playing with veterans in pick-up games. It was the same way in 2011 when none of those kids played USA Basketball, either, so they could be together,” Weiss said.
Weiss expects Kentucky to be good. Very good. But he feels the same about Louisville.
“Louisville will be better than you think,” Weiss said. “Top three (in the country) in my mind, maybe higher. With Russ Smith staying, Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock both playing USA age group this summer and the recruitment of Chris Jones, the best junior college point guard in the country, they will be good.
“The game at Rupp is one I am looking forward to being there for. Could be the two best teams in the country although Duke could be a factor, too.”