Update: John Calipari doubled down on his claim:
I hate to drive you traditionalists crazy, but I'll say it again: our goal at the beginning of the season was to have eight players drafted.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 21, 2015
Original post, May 20, 3:36 p.m.:
In front of a packed business conference in Lexington, John Calipari once again reiterated that he prioritizes getting his players drafted over winning NCAA championships.
Calipari's "Players First" mentality is nothing new -- he's long been on record as emphasizing the importance of getting his players to the NBA, and reportedly talked several out of returning to school if he felt it would hurt their future. But rarely is he as explicit as he was Wednesday morning, when he spoke about the importance of teamwork and leadership to the annual Rebelation summit held by Kentucky agriculture company Alltech at Rupp Arena:
"Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think that goal was to win the national title and win all the games. It was to get eight players drafted ...
"The mission statement for me would be to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on. Now, in our state, they want my mission to be WIN NATIONAL TITLES! WIN NATIONAL TITLES! But my mission is bigger than that."
The Kentucky coach acknowledged that this team fell short of their goal of winning every game, but said that they still "did historic things" and would get seven players drafted. Our latest 2015 NBA mock draft features five Wildcats in the first round, although most mocks don't feature all seven Kentucky early entrants getting selected.
Cal is right that Kentucky fans put a pretttttttttttyyyyy high emphasis on winning titles, and Big Blue Nation has historically gotten a bit rankled by statements like this. Of course, everything is mutually beneficial -- better players come to Kentucky when they're promised a strong NBA Draft stock and better players mean more titles, and players who perform well in March get drafted higher -- but the line of thinking that Kentucky's success is in any way secondary tends to upset people.