By: Anthony Bertacchi

 

John Calipari doesn’t care about what you think. He doesn’t care about your criticisms and what you think about what he’s doing to kill the “sanctity” of college basketball. Why should he?

Honestly, I could just leave it at that, but that would be a really short piece and a little awkward. So, with that said, let me explain why he can continue to do the same thing, year after year, and you’re going to come back every single time.

 

 Reason #1

 It’s not like Kentucky is going to have a bad recruiting class for next year.

We’ll begin with the new crop of talent that the University of Kentucky will bring in next year.

Let’s start learning all of the new players heading to Kentucky for the 2015-16 season. You might as well learn them now because you’re going to hear about them around Halloween when every station talks about the “stacked team” that Kentucky somehow brought in again.

So, remember the names of Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews. So far, according to Scouts.com, those are the players that have committed to Kentucky for the 2015-16 season. According to ESPN.com there are eight other players who still have interest in Kentucky but, so far, only three have committed.

Of those three, Labissiere is the #1 Center recruit and Briscoe is the #1 Point Guard recruit. Matthews is only the 13th best shooting guard. That doesn’t sound as great but, then again, Eric Bledsoe (another Calipari recruit from Kentucky) was only the 12th best point guard coming out of high school and he’s had a pretty good career, so far. (17.0 Points per game, 6.0 Assists and 5.3 rebounds this season)

 

Reason #2:

Calipari’s fingerprints will be all over the draft, and we all LOVE the draft

So why do you need to know those three players mentioned earlier? Well, because anybody that you’ve heard of from Kentucky this year is gone. I mean all of them. They’re all gone.

In what has become a yearly tradition with a John Calipari team, it was announced yesterday that a number of the Kentucky Wildcat players are leaving to enter the NBA Draft

To be more specific, that number is seven. That’s right, seven of Kentucky’s players are headed to New York City to hear their names called by Adam Silver on June 25th.

Not only that, but the seven who are leaving are the top seven scorers per game this season. Who’s the eighth place scorer that decided to stay? His name is Tyler Ulis. (A Freshman) He averages a whopping at 5.6 points per game. If you include the three other players that are graduating it brings the total number of players leaving to ten.

Goodbye to Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison. All of you will, at some point, hear your name called. Since Calipari has been at Kentucky he’s had 19 players declare for the NBA draft. All 19 have been drafted and 15 of them have been drafted in the first round.

Also, before we forget their names forever, goodbye to Brian Long, Tod Lanter and Sam Malone. They’re the graduates that have played a grand total of 35 minutes this season.

 

 Reason #3

Every good story needs a villain

In a way, Calipari is a mix of Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street and The Joker. Is he the easiest person to root for? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing. He’s just following the rules that he’s given and does a great job at exploiting them to his advantage. Every story needs a bad guy right? We need the Joker to go against Batman the same way we need John Calipari to go against what people like to envision “amateurism” is. (Hi, Bo Ryan and your “Rent-A-Player comments.)

Calipari isn’t doing anything illegal at Kentucky. Yes, the Derrick Rose’s SAT scores have since been invalidated and Marcus Camby may have taken thousands of dollars from boosters, but that’s in the past and, so far, he’s just doing what other people say he can do. If the rules say that kids only have to play one year in college then he’s going to get the best ones he can find. If that means the team gets turned over every year, so be it.

Earlier I mentioned the reasons why Calipari shouldn’t care, but there are also a couple of reasons why the players shouldn’t care about whether they come back either.

 

Player Reason #1

Why would any of them want to the pressure?

While the Wisconsin “we want revenge” narrative sounds great in theory, it falls short when you consider the source. Wisconsin had motivation to come back and beat Kentucky after losing by a point to them in the Final Four, last year.

However, what was this entire college basketball season about? It was about Kentucky. Plain and simple, it was about whether or not Kentucky would complete the 40-0 season and win the title. Sure, Wisconsin beat them in this years’ Final Four and that felt great. The problem was, they lost in the championship game a couple days later. At that point the narrative switched to Coach K and how great of a coach he is.

That was Wisconsin. That was a team that had legitimate talent but got a fraction of the coverage nationally. Could you have picked out Sam Dekker in a lineup before March? Be honest, no you couldn’t. So why would a team that had the pressure of the world on their shoulders this year want to come back and do it all over again without the guarantee that it will pay off. Which leads into part two…

 

Player Reason #2

Why stay longer without getting paid?

Come on. Let’s hear it. Yell at me. Tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about and yell with angry comments saying, “They’re getting a free education!” and “I didn’t get to go to college for free so why should they?!” First, let’s understand that, just because you didn’t get something doesn’t mean the entire world doesn’t get it either. Life isn’t fair all the time. I’m sorry that you weren’t a good athlete and had to try harder at other things. It’s a cold world sometimes… Oh well.

Unless you’re a top 10 player coming out of high school you need to play in college in order for NBA teams to see you. Oversees is the only other viable option and, unless you’re an absolute lock to go high in the draft, that option is risky. So, they kinda have to play in college… for free.

Usually there are four reasons a player goes to play college basketball at a major university (realize that I didn’t say ANY university) like Kentucky.

 

  • The proximity – This may be because the player lives close to the school and doesn’t want to move too far away.
  • The coach – Look at how many NBA stars have played for Calipari or Coach K or Roy Williams.
  • It’s the only way that the NBA will look at him- We’ll call this the Sam Dekker or Steph Curry phenomenon.
  • They have NBA talent but the NBA mandates that they have to be out of school for a year to be in the NBA. (Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis etc.…)

 

So, if all that will happen, for sure, is that you’ll get more scrutiny from the media and don’t get the millions of dollars to balance it out, then why do it? Okay, I’m done. I’ll move on.

Calipari knows the game at this point. If you tell him that the rules mandate that Player X needs to play a year in college then why not get the best ones available?

The Fab Five of Michigan showed the world it was possible to throw freshman into the fire and be successful over two decades ago. Calipari is just continuing the legacy. He won a ring in 2012 and if Kansas’ Mario Chalmers didn’t hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime he’d have a second.

He doesn’t care what you say because, why should he? His players love him. He’s winning at a historic rate and, so far, the NCAA hasn’t come in and raided his home looking for violations. He may want to go to the NBA later but that’s because he wants to succeed at the highest level. Until Cal starts losing, he can pretty much do whatever he wants.

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