Ex-UK Stars Not Wild About John Calipari's Draft Night Comments

John Calipari wasn't up on the stage once with David Stern during Thursday night's NBA draft, but fans still saw plenty of the UK coach. With five players selected in the first round -- and three of them going in the lottery -- Calipari got more than his fair share of screen time. ↵

↵It was really the ultimate recruiting pitch to players: "Win or lose at the college level, I can make you rich." Sure, that Kentucky team won an SEC title, but it didn't make a Final Four or win a title, so in the history of that school, they hardly even rate. The achievement of bringing together talented freshmen to win at that level is noteworthy, but probably not an historic achievement by UK standards. And yet on Thursday night, Calipari dropped this doozy of a comment while talking to ESPN's Heather Cox: ↵

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↵⇥"I'd like to say it is the biggest day in the history of Kentucky's program," [Calipari said]. "... the biggest day for the University of Kentucky." ↵
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↵It's certainly a bold statement about a school that has won seven national titles, finished as the runner up three times and been to the Final Four a total of 13 times. When you hold the 2009-10 team to that standard, Calipari is stark-raving mad. The school's all-time leading scorer, Dan Issel, said just about as much to the Herald-Leader: ↵

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↵⇥"The dumbest thing I've ever heard," said Dan Issel. "If the goal is to be a feeder team for the NBA, maybe that was the greatest day. I thought the goal was to win a national championship." ↵
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↵Jerry Tipton was unable to find one former UK player or coach in his small survey who agreed with Calipari's sentiment. And, if we're being honest for a minute, Calipari is off his rocker if he actually believes this was the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history. But you don't think he believes that, do you? Anyone who holds up that statement as more than a bold, if not overstated, sales pitch to future recruits clearly hasn't been paying attention to Calipari all these years. ↵

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↵Now, if fans at Kentucky care about achievements of the players beyond Lexington, then sure, this rates as an historic day for the Wildcats. The NBA had never had five players drafted from one school in the first round. Kentucky did it. The Wildcats had also never had a player drafted No. 1 overall, but they did that too. ↵

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↵It's understandable that the comments rubbed a few people the wrong way, but this is what you signed up for with Calipari. He'll be brash and maybe even a little bit arrogant, but you take one look at that 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes and tell me you'd rather have someone else. ↵

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↵(H/T to College Basketball Nation) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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