Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is at it again. He pulled off another feat that shows how and why he’s the best recruiter to ever be a part of college basketball. What is it this time you might ask?
ESPN will be covering Kentucky’s practice this coming Sunday. That’s right ESPN is going to live broadcast a practice for a Division I basketball team. This isn’t Midnight Madness, it’s just a practice with 3-on-3 drills and 5-on-5 scrimmages with Doris Burke, Seth Greenberg, Andy Katz and Jay Williams there for two hours. This isn’t the first or last time Calipari has done this. He has a combine scheduled for the second straight year for his players that NBA scouts will be in attendance for too.
It goes without saying there’s never been someone on the recruiting side like John Calipari in college basketball. It started with his development of point guards thanks to the dribble-drive motion offense. At least, that’s what everyone thought. It really was the wings that thrived under Calipari, the players like a Chris Douglas-Roberts at Memphis. He turned Memphis into a powerhouse with top recruits thanks to the style of play and the development of players for the NBA.
From there he had the goldmine sitting at Kentucky. It’s been the perfect marriage in college basketball history as he’s been able to recruit with ease for the Wildcats. Again, it started with point guards, the stretch of John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Andrew Harrison.
But, just like before he’s turned guys into pros. The development of a player like Josh Harrellson, who couldn’t see the floor because of talent until his senior year shows what Calipari can do. Harrellson would start in the Final Four before being drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft. DeAndre Liggins looked like a lost project, but again Calipari was able to develop him into a NBA Draft pick.
Calipari has revolutionized recruiting over the years, most notably last season. He recruited the top players in the class, regardless of who was staying for another year. This led to having nine McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster and Willie Cauley-Stein. What we saw was the platoon system, something that hasn’t really been used at high level basketball before.
Heading into this year, plenty of people asked how he’d be able to recruit after last year and he followed it up with another top class. How did he do it? Explaining the platoon system was a one-time thing and each team is different that he coaches. He now has three top point guards that can play multiple positions, something that he’s done in the past and will continue to do to help their NBA dreams come true.
Sure, people will say recruiting is easy or bring up things in Calipari’s past. But, let’s remember he was never guilty of anything from the NCAA. So, when it comes to recruiting, which is part of the coaching game, there will never be anyone like Calipari again in college hoops.
To quote Bret Hart. He’s the best there is. The best there was. The best there ever will be.