TELECONFERENCE: Calipari talks NCAA and his team

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst
Cats Illustrated

In an SEC teleconference designed for John Calipari to talk about his upcoming Kentucky basketball team, the UK head coach spent most of his allotted time discussing the NCAA and the NBA's one-and-done policy.

It's a topic that Calipari is well-versed in discussing. If you have been paying attention his talking points haven't changed. Calipari is OK with the one-and-done system and is willing to hear other systems (like the college baseball model), but will always want the best for the student-athletes.


UGA Sports Communications

“Very rarely do I speak highly of the NCAA,” Calipari said. “But what it did was challenge a generation of kids to do better academically, to be on point and get themselves where they need to go.

“The NCAA this year reported we had the highest graduation in men’s basketball for African Americans. Ever. Ever. So, my kid all finished the job.”

Calipari once again referenced that any player that plays at Kentucky will have a lifetime scholarship, allowing him to come back at any point in their life to graduate from UK. He said three or four players have come back after leaving early for the NBA. Calipari also said that if the NBA forces players to stay in school longer he's OK with that, too.

“I’m fine with the baseball rule,” Calipari said. “It wouldn’t bother me.”

Baseball players are allowed to play professionally directly out of high school but if they choose to go to college they must wait three years before playing in the pros.

It's been reported that the NBA would like to have players play at least two years of college basketball, but the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) wants players to be able to make money directly out of high school.

The compromise was a one-year removed from a player's graduating high school class, thus the one-and-done rule.

The NBA has considered a model that would allow players to go directly to the NBA Development League (now the G-League) where NBA teams could monitor the development of young players while allowing those players to make a profit.

Calipari said he is concerned that the money wouldn't be substantial enough to last a lifetime if something didn't work out for the player.

“If they are trying to get kids in high school to go to the D-League I will be shouting from mountain tops saying ‘What will this be doing for a generation of kids,’” Calipari said.


Courtesy of McDonald's All-American Game

Calipari was eventually asked about his upcoming team and the UK head coach raved about freshman Kevin Knox.

The two spent time together at the USA U19 tryouts in Colorado Springs last week where Knox shined. He was well on his way to making the team but was sent home because of a minor groin injury. However, Calipari did say he was one of the best three or four players before the injury.

"There were times where I just shook my head and said 'wow'," Calipari said. "... He's terrific. Boy, is he going to be really good."

But the pressing issue for Knox is the theme for the 2017-2018 team- inexperience. Calipari said he will be coaching his most inexperienced team in his career.

“We’re going to be really young,” Calipari said. “Really, really the most inexperienced team I’ve coached. That’s going to be interesting to deal with. I love our length, I love our group of guys, I love that they all want to win. When you talk to them that’s what they talk about. It’s always fun to get a group like that. That is fun and I’m looking forward to it.”

Calipari has been busy with the USA U19 Team that is still out in Colorado and will head overseas this week. They will compete in the FIBA World Cup, which takes place July 1st-July 8th in Cairo, Egypt.

UK freshmen P.J. Washington and Hamidou Diallo made the final roster.

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