Blog Entry

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:11 pm
  •  
 


By Matt Moore


Let's get right to the point. In the list of people who influence the NBA, John Calipari isn't at the top. But the empire he's built and transferred to Kentucky to expand may be the center of the NBA universe outside of New York and Miami. And if you want proof, you only need to look at what's going on in Lexington this summer.

We start with the expected, another stellar team from Calipari. But this one, it's a little bit more than even the normal outstanding classes of prospects Calipari produces each year. In addition to Terrence Jones, who would have been a first-rounder this year had he elected to jump, the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats feature three players CBSSports.com placed in the top ten of a 2012 mock draft, and four in the first round. Anthony Davis is considered by many to be the number one overall pick next year, Michael Gilchrist is talked about as being potentially just as good. Marquis Teague is plotted as a mid-first rounder (which means he could very easily wind up in the lottery). Only Doron Lamb, who Calipari has called the best player on this year's Kentucky team, isn't expected to go in the first round.

It won't happen, but we should note that it's possible that the entire starting five of UK this fall could go in the first round, and that four of the five could go in the lottery. That's absurd. For a coach known to pull in talent, the addition of Jones for his sophomore year has made this year's squad of prospects out of this world. Essentially, every Kentucky game needs to be a must-watch for NBA draftniks.

But that's not all. As the lockout drags on, some familiar faces are showing up in and around Lexington. Calipari offered early on to let locked out former members of the Wildcats use the facilities. In addition, several former Wildcats have decided to finish their degrees at UK should the lockout cost the whole year. Now, no one thinks this is about the family approach or goodwill and interest in supporting former members that Cal and the Blue Nation would say it is. And that's right in line with Calipari's approach. He's brazenly manipulative of NBA ties while all the while putting the most friendly of faces forward. It's made him the scourge of many college basketball pundits, while NBA guys? We tend to nod appreciatively. Calipari filters good talent into national television appearances, raises their draft profile, and then sends them on their merry way to where they belong: the NBA, making money to play the game they're at the elite level of already. The transparent slime may put some off, but the fact remains: Calipari has become a first-round gold mine.

Tyreke Evans, ROY. John Wall would have been ROY if Blake Griffin hadn't entered the fray as an actual sophomore. DeMarcus Cousins could have been a candidate if he'd kept his head on his shoulders. And all of that is before you factor the MVP Derrick Rose and his time with Calipari in Memphis. And with all those players hanging around campus, word will continue to get around to future prospects. It's not just cool to go to Kentucky. It's part of the NBA factory.

LeBron James is a "close personal friend" of Calipari. And while the rest of the universe may hate James, kids are still flocking to him as an idol, evidenced by both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson's realtionship with him. Jay-Z? Visiting the locker room. The link here in all of this is, of course, Worldwide Wes, William Wesley, who is also, surprise! Calipari's agent representative with CAA. It's a whole little machine that makes collegiate moralists squirm, even as Calipari has done more to produce revenue for young players than any coach in the country. If it's all about him, so what? The effect is the same.

UCLA hosts the most famous and well known private pickup games. But with Cousins, Bledsoe, and Wall on campus along with Rondo and whoever else conceivably shows up, Lexington is going to be a virtual nexus of NBA workouts. It'll make the machine stronger, even as a class that some consider to have a higher total ranking than the Fab Five makes its way to play in the SEC.

Calipari is coaching the Dominican national team against a collection of former Wildcats. Cal has used every edge in keeping the factory rolling. William Wesley's close associate, LeBron James, and his brand will be sponsoring gear for UK this year. All-Stars are hanging out on campus and could be hired as special assistant coaches.

The reality is that with New York a tar pit where both the players and owners are stuck drowning in their own stubbornness, and Miami evacuated as the Triad go about their globe trotting ways, there's a new center of the NBA universe. Maybe Calipari isn't emperor of this kingdom, and he's just the friendly father figure he makes himself out to be. It doesn't change the fact that the future of the NBA flows through Lexington, and it's Calipari tending the waters.
  •  
Comments

Since: Apr 22, 2010
Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

No one has cheated as much as JohnWooden did at UCLA,  I lived in LA at the tim and it was nothing to see the nice autos the player were driving knowing they couldn't afford them.  When Wooden retired and the truth came out UCLA got off easy.   Poppa Sam was banned from UCLA and the BB program went down.  UCLA  got off easy.



Since: Aug 6, 2011
Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:09 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

Lee3022,

You say, and I quote:

“Calipari may be a father figure in your eyes. In mine, he is an abuser of NCAA rules as evidenced by him being the only coach in NCAA history to have a Final Four entire history voided and forfeited. But wait, not only is Calipari the only one to have this drastic NCAA punishment but he pulled it off at two different schools (before jumping ship for the next one.) I do not dislike Kentucky. I dislike the cheating carried out under John Calipari “ [emphasis added]

Well I don't know how you justify your statement. University of Michigan had 192 wins vacated, and their appearances in the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours scotched. University of Minnisota's coach was involved in an academic cheating scandal and their 1997 final four appearance vacated, and he was basically blackballed from the NCAA (quite justified in my eyes). In 1971 both Villinova and Western Kentucky had their appearances vacated because players signed professional contracts during the season . Ohio State lost all of its games, had to repay all tournement winning (including a final four) for the years 1999 to 2002, and had a three year probationary period.

In my mind there is a world of difference between what Clem Haskins did at Minnesota, which was knowingly cheating, and what happened to the teams Calipari coached at Massachusetts and Memphis, which “inadvertantly” used players who were later ruled ineligible for behavior that had nothing to do with the coach. Interestingly, the NCAA has taken the same attitude, in both cases finding no evidence of Coach Cal being at fault, or even trying to cover up the infractions .

The thing that sets Cal apart is that he won the championships in both cases involving his teams, but not by “cheating” as you state, but by coaching well. Also an indication of how well he coachs is the fact of his success, despite the high turnover of players going early to the NBA, and the general lack of experienced players that that process leaves on the team.

You also note that:

As for Lexington, the few NBA players hanging there are far fewer than IMG, Chicago (Grover), Los Angeles, Houston or Seattle. Other schools have multiple NBA players on campus this year but many of them are established and not hype with little achievement (on Rondo on your list qualifies). There is very little in Lexington compared to those cities.”

So no credit should be given to the number of players using UK's facilities, compared say to the number of players to be found in all of Chicago, or NYC, or LA? All much larger cities and all with NBA teams I must note. Well you are entitled to your opinion, even if it does seem pretty lame.

As for your statement that “... Calipari is just one in a dozen who has sent multiple college players to success in the NBA...“, I would suggest that there are very few who are sending them forward at the rate that he is, and ones meeting with the success when it comes to being drafted. His success at Memphis was notable, but now that he is at one of the traditional basketball powers, his production of NBA ready players seems to be nothing short of phenomenal!

Your implication that Matt would only write about Cal, who is one of the most newsworthy coachs in the NCAA, if he was paid off, is both a cheap shot and in your own words “disgusting”.

Al (Cat fan in Canada)





Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:14 pm
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

:

Maybe you should read my comment again?  Did I say any where that UNC, DUKE, or KU in general were jealous?   Or did I say this particular poster, because the complete ridiculous statements he made in his post, was portraying himself as nothing but a jealous fan.  If he would have said one thing that had any validity I would have just called him a hater and a rival.  When you make up crap because you have nothing real to go on then sorry you’re jealous.

He didn't bring up UNC's recent titles or success; he just blabbed crap about UK.   It wasn't even criticism it was bandwagon buzz word blabber that makes everyone feel better about the fact that UK is winning a lot, getting better each year, grabbing almost every top recruit they want and especially (This is the big one) Cal is showing he can out coach anyone in the league come tourney time.

You’re Heels and the Bucks should have beaten us in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.  Both your teams had more players, more experience, and better seeding in the bracket than we did.  Cal's game plan and defense took it to Roy in the Elite 8, UNC had no answer.

As for nothing to be jealous about, I'll give you that for UNC.  But you can't tell me it isn't digging at you just a little that UK got to 2000 wins first, has the most tourney wins, has more championships, knocked you out of the elite 8 this year, took John Wall right out of our own state (Roy's Fault), and locked up 3 consecutive #1 recruiting classes, 2 of which are probably top 5 of all time classes.

You guys always harp on us about talking about the old well listen to yourself.  UNC's success in the 2000's is no different than UK's in the 1990's in that they are both history.  We can make this conversation about the now, and in the now every team in college basketball has a reason to envy UK. Everyone seems to forget that Cal still hasn't had a full team of just his recruits.  The scary part it appears we're only getting better.

2009 - Elite 8
2010 - Final 4
2011 - ?????? (We'll see you in the Final of the Big Dance if you make it, either way I foresee banner #8 coming to Rupp.) 




Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:50 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

@Dustinm:

North Carolina 'possibly' has as much to offer as Kentucky? Again, the ridiculous Kentucky delusion. North Carolina is a better school with a coach who has won two National Championships in the last 7 years and sent many, many players to the NBA. I'd say, if anything, Kentucky possibly has as much to offer as North Carolina.

This is why people hate Kentucky fans. Not because they're jealous but b/c you people spout off unjustified nonsense like this.



Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:46 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

@KentuckyElite: Tear down this poster all you want but Kentucky fans, please get this through your thick, self-aggrandizing heads: North Carolina and Duke and Kansas fans have absolutely NOTHING for which to be jealous of Kentucky. Each of those programs has been FAR more successful that UK recently, even with last year's Final Four. It's cool to take pride in your program but stop confusing criticism with jealousy. As a North Carolina fan, I laugh every time my comments are accused of being motivated by envy.

As for this article, it is a wonderful exercise in hyperbole. Not to mention Kentucky is not the only team which will be starting 4-5 potential NBA first-rounders next season.



Since: Feb 15, 2009
Posted on: August 11, 2011 1:35 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

Lee, I don't know what Abbott article you read, but the one I just read at True Hoops did not paint an ugly or repulsive picture. Save those adjectives for your imagination that obviously worked overtime when you wrote your post.



Since: Sep 7, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

You do know that Wesley has sat with Bill Self's wife at KU games, has had dinner with Coach K and knows countless other college coaches. To quote CBS writer Gary Parrish, "he's World Wide Wes, not Commonwealth of Kentucky Wes." Secondily, just know this, if Wesley didn't exist Calipari would still be killing it in recruiting because his program has more to offer than any other in the country (UNC, Duke are possibly equal) and he's a master marketer as well as a great coach. Lastly, Wesley reps coaches and not players as an agent, but players respect his opinion and he tells them what he thinks. Thats not violation nor should it be.



Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 12:13 pm
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

There are so many false statements and holes in your long tirade that I don't even know where to begin.  I don't know if you are trying to come off as a jealous fan of some other school (UNC, KU, Duke??) but that is exactly what is blasting through your mirage of trendy, fact free comments.  I'll address them in Bullet order:

- "This is a blatant attempt to ensure that recruits pick Kentucky over any other school. Fact is, Calipari is just one in a dozen who has sent multiple college players to success in the NBA."

Are you serious, as if this article will have any effect on top players coming to Kentucky!!! Haven't you been paying attention, Cal is as close to being able to hand pick any player he wants for his team as any coach in the history of the game has ever been (Maybe Wooden).  His attitude of, "I'm here for you" has shown players they can trust that this coach is going to push them to the limits of their ability but in the end won't try to lie or guilt them into a decision that aids the coaches or schools agenda over the players.  Cal works every player like they are going to play at the next level (Josh Harrelson, Deandre Liggins) and all the elite high school talent, he gives up on no one.  Most importantly he wins; he makes players realize that their individual goals and the team’s goals are the same.  Every player on the UK 2009 team could have had better stats if they played apart (Wall, Patterson, Cousins, Orton, Bledsoe) but the TEAM's success brought them the ability to go play in the NBA. And NO NO NO, no coach has had the success Cal has had at putting elite talent into the NBA over the last 4 years period.  He is not 1 of a dozen, he is in a league all his own.  Which brings me to your next dumb comment.

- "Getting your knickers in a twist over unproven freshmen players does not make sense, Freshmen might get drafted into the NBA but they soon discover that they are ill equipped from playing one year in college to play NBA players a decade ahead of them"

This comment leaves me with the feeling that you just don't watch much basketball, or your just not watching the players Cal has put in the NBA after 1 Season.   (Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, Rose, Evans, Orton).  All 1 and done players from Cal all ended up at one point or another STARTING on their respective NBA teams as Rookies over veteran players and were successful.  Rose.... do I really need to say anything, Evans ROY on a very bad team, Cousins double double machine and ROY candidate finished 4th in voting, Wall would have been ROY if Griffin didn't enter a year late, Bledsoe rose from the bench to take Baron Davis's starting spot and showed promise as the future of the Clippers at the point.  Orton got injured so who knows, for the record Cal advised him to stay in school another year to advance his offensive skills.  Your just wrong here, don't know what else to say.

- "As for Lexington, the few NBA players hanging there are far fewer than IMG, Chicago (Grover), Los Angeles, Houston or Seattle. Other schools have multiple NBA players on campus this year but many of them are established and not hype with little achievement (on Rondo on your list qualifies)."

Once again you just don't know basketball.  Rondo is the only one who qualifies?  The exhibition game Cal organized to bring former UK now NBA players back to Lexington includes Rondo, Wall, Cousins, Magloire, Prince, Bledsoe, Bogans, Knight, Harrelson, and Meeks.  In that group there are 3 different Starters on NBA Championship teams and 2 All Stars!!!  All but Harrelson are expected to start on their NBA teams next season.  3 of them have made NBA all Defensive 1rst or 2nd teams, Prince has USA gold medal, Knight and Harrelson have been to a final four.  What do you want?  Little achievement what a joke.

And lastly your combined bandwagon NCAA blabber.  Cal has zero NCAA infractions on his record, not one.  That is something Roy Williams, Bill Self, Bruce Pearl, Tom Izzo and even Mr. Coach K. can't claim.  So who is the abuser of NCAA rules?  The final four removals are the fault of two people and two people alone Marcus Camby, and Derrick Rose.  Camby took money from a greedy agent before the NCAA tourney because he knew he was going to the NBA.  Poor choice and it cost his school and Cal big time.  What possible gain to Cal get from his player taking money after he already had him on his team, just stupid.   
Rose cheated on his SAT, the school board didn't know it, the testing agency didn't know it, and the NCAA didn't know it but somehow Cal was supposed to and it is all his fault.  Cal put Rose through the NCAA eligibility comity twice to make sure he was able to play both times the NCAA said he was fine.  Then a year later they say oh we have new evidence and no he wasn't fine, good bye wins.  Two stupid players committed two stupid acts which left large dark spots on Cal's resume which is filled otherwise with nothing but victory, devotion to his teams and players, and promotion of the sport.  

Hater just keep the hate coming, the CATs will keep winning, and you can keep crying.  (Was your teams coach one of the one's with infractions I listed above???? ha)



 



Since: Jun 6, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:30 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

John Calipari
Wesley is undeniably close to Kentucky coach John Calipari. Not only do a lot of players close to Wesley end up playing for Coach Cal -- Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Tyreke Evans and the like -- but Wes is unabashed in rooting for Cal's teams, once the Memphis Tigers and now the Kentucky Wildcats.

Calipari has often been painted as one of the more corrupt figures in basketball, with Wesley as Exhibit A that he is surrounded by shadowy figures. Wesley's version of events is predictably different. When Wesley was managing the career of Milt Wagner's son Dajuan Wagner -- with whom Wesley is extremely close -- he sought out Calipari (whom he first met when the coach was in New Jersey recruiting Kevin Walls, in the 1980s) to coach Wagner because he thought Calipari was one of the only college coaches who would be honest in preparing Wagner for the NBA, and telling him when he was ready to go.

A common complaint about college coaches is that they lean hard on their best players to stay in school, even when it's not in the players' best interests. Think about the lengths college coaches go to in recruiting the best high-schoolers. Those players aren't nearly as helpful in raising a coach's profile as NBA-ready, NCAA-tested stars. It's hard to let those players go, and as a result, when players ask their coaches if they're ready for the NBA, it is distressingly common for them to be told "no."

Calipari's approach here is reflected in the funny line DeMarcus Cousins has been using again and again. "Coach Cal said that if I want to do what's best for him, and to put food on his family's table, I should stay in school," says the Kenntucky big man. "But if I want to do what's best for my family, I have to go to the NBA." Cousins -- arguably the best player in college basketball -- is leaving school at his college coach's insistence, even though he says he'd love to be returning to college. That's a rare instance of a college coach working against his own best interests, and at the heart of Wesley's long-term regard for Calipari.



Since: Jun 6, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:25 am
 

Calipari and the new NBA nexus

John Calipari
Wesley is undeniably close to Kentucky coach John Calipari. Not only do a lot of players close to Wesley end up playing for Coach Cal -- Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Tyreke Evans and the like -- but Wes is unabashed in rooting for Cal's teams, once the Memphis Tigers and now the Kentucky Wildcats.

Calipari has often been painted as one of the more corrupt figures in basketball, with Wesley as Exhibit A that he is surrounded by shadowy figures. Wesley's version of events is predictably different. When Wesley was managing the career of Milt Wagner's son Dajuan Wagner -- with whom Wesley is extremely close -- he sought out Calipari (whom he first met when the coach was in New Jersey recruiting Kevin Walls, in the 1980s) to coach Wagner because he thought Calipari was one of the only college coaches who would be honest in preparing Wagner for the NBA, and telling him when he was ready to go.

A common complaint about college coaches is that they lean hard on their best players to stay in school, even when it's not in the players' best interests. Think about the lengths college coaches go to in recruiting the best high-schoolers. Those players aren't nearly as helpful in raising a coach's profile as NBA-ready, NCAA-tested stars. It's hard to let those players go, and as a result, when players ask their coaches if they're ready for the NBA, it is distressingly common for them to be told "no."

Calipari's approach here is reflected in the funny line DeMarcus Cousins has been using again and again. "Coach Cal said that if I want to do what's best for him, and to put food on his family's table, I should stay in school," says the Kenntucky big man. "But if I want to do what's best for my family, I have to go to the NBA." Cousins -- arguably the best player in college basketball -- is leaving school at his college coach's insistence, even though he says he'd love to be returning to college. That's a rare instance of a college coach working against his own best interests, and at the heart of Wesley's long-term regard for Calipari.

(I don't see anything so damning in this report on Wesley and Cal.)


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com