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As soon as they finished chopping down the nets, posing for TV cameras and soaking up the atmosphere at the Superdome the night of April 2, members of Kentucky's newly crowned national title team sprinted up into the stands to celebrate with those closest to them.
Among the first to get a hug from many of the confetti-flecked Wildcats was a bald-headed man in a sharp suit leaning over the first row railing.
William Wesley, better known as Worldwide Wes, is a former sneaker salesman turned basketball power broker at the center of many of the conspiracy theories surrounding John Calipari's recruiting mastery. As the story goes, Wesley builds relationships with prospects while they're in high school, funnels them to Calipari and other college coaches he's close to, then reaps the benefit when they sign with the agency he works for once they turn pro.
The sight of Wesley celebrating courtside with the Kentucky players after the national title game lent credence to that narrative, but everything that has occurred since should make conspiracy theorists at least pause and think. Five of Kentucky's six draft hopefuls have signed with agencies other than Creative Arts Agency including future No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who on Friday chose Wasserman Media Group's Arn Tellem and Thad Foucher over Wesley's longtime friend at CAA, Leon Rose.
That outcome mirrors what happened Calipari's previous two years at Kentucky. Of the seven first-round picks Calipari produced in 2010 and 2011, only point guard Eric Bledsoe signed with Rose at CAA.
It's foolish to make any rash conclusions in the absence of concrete evidence, but that trend certainly raises some questions.
Has the notion of a Wesley-Kentucky-CAA pipeline been vastly overblown by Calipari detractors? Or is Rose simply not doing his part closing the deal?
In a rare on-the-record quote in a 2011 Sports Illustrated profile of Calipari, Wesley said the reason he praises the Kentucky coach to players who seek his advice is because of the loyalty Calipari shows to those around him.
Wesley cited the story of Milt Wagner and Arthur Barclay, the father and best friend of once highly touted guard Dajuan Wagner. Calipari brought those two to Memphis to help him land Wagner in 2001, yet he kept the elder Wagner on staff and allowed Barclay to remain on the roster long after the one-and-done guard left for the NBA.
"Love is an action," Wesley says. "You've got to show it. That's what Cal's done for his players, his coaches, and he continues to do it. If you call me and you have a son and you say, 'Who would you recommend?' I'm going to say there's one coach I trust impeccably."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the only current Kentucky player to sign with Rose, who also represents LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, among others.
It's no surprise Kidd-Gilchrist chose CAA since he and Wesley have been especially close for years, but it's definitely worth noting that none of his Wildcats brethren followed suit.
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