NCAA Championship 2012: John Calipari Reflects On Humble Beginnings, Serving Peas With Kansas Jayhawks

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari has become one of the elite names in his profession, building championship contenders by consistently bringing in the best high school basketball talent in the country. Before he earned his reputations as a gang-busting recruiter he started as a humble volunteer with the Kansas Jayhawks, who just so happen to be his opponent Monday night in the 2012 NCAA Championship Game.

"When Ted Owens asked me to join his staff, I said, ‘What position?'" Calipari recalled. "He said, ‘Volunteer.' I said, ‘How much does that guy make?' He said, ‘You're going to live with the assistant, Randolph Carroll, and you can work at the training table to eat. And then you're going to help me run my camp, and I'll pay you some camp money.' So I said, ‘I'm going to work at the training table?' ‘Yes, for the Sinclairs.' So Paul Sinclair ran the training table. I would be in the line (asking) ‘Would you like peas or corn? Peas? Great.' I served the baseball team, basketball team, football team. It was a great experience. I mean, I had no worries. I have great memories of Lawrence, Kansas."

Calipari also admitted that he is still learning lessons as a head coach. His loss to the Jayhawks in 2008 with the Memphis Tigers, for example, was rather instructive.

"Make free throws, that's what I learned," Calipari said.

The Tigers made just 12-of-19 attempts from the charity stripe in the 2008 championship game. This year's Wildcats should fare a little better, having made 72.3 percent of their attempts on the year.

For more on Self and the Jayhawks, head over to the SB Nation blog Rock Chalk Talk. For more on the Wildcats, check out A Sea of Blue. For more updates on tonight's championship game throughout the day, keep it tuned to this StoryStream.

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