Kentucky head coach John Calipari is most notable for two things — turning out one-and-done players year after year who are selected high in the NBA Draft and leaving every school he’s coached at with some sort of academic or recruiting scandal.
With both of these reputations he has both been hurt and helped in the recruiting process, but after the 2011 NBA Draft Thursday it’s certainly helping more than it’s hurting right now. “Seeing guys like Brandon Knight getting drafted Thursday means a lot to me,” says class of 2013 shooting guard Isaiah Lewis, “because I know that Kentucky and Coach Cal produces pros and that’s what I want to be one day.”
Another 2013 Kentucky target agrees with Lewis. “The fact that he produces so many pros and one-and-dones helps,” says class of 2013 power forward Chris Walker (Watch List). “It shows Coach Cal knows what it takes to get you to the next level.”
Both Lewis and Walker say they have the Wildcats high on their list and that producing so many NBA players is a big reason why. “All of the pros he produces is certainly a reason,” says Lewis, “but I also think he’s a winner because even though he doesn’t win championships he is always in the Final Four or Sweet Sixteen every year.”
Class of 2012 power forward Alex Poythress (#25) also likes how Calipari gets his players ready for the pros. “I like how he develops players faster,” says Poythress.
However, even though Calipari has been helped because of what he’s done lately what’s in his past still affects what prospects think of him.
“I’m afraid to announce that Kentucky is on my list of schools because I don’t want to be associated with all of that scandal and stuff like that,” said a 2012 prospect who requested to remain anonymous. “It definitely hurts their chances because I don’t want to be known for and be suspected of cheating or anything like that.”
Although, some recruits don’t even take any of that into consideration. “My job is just to have good grades and play basketball,” says Lewis. “I don’t worry about that stuff, I just want to be the best player I can be.”
Adds Walker, “His negative reputation doesn’t hurt their chances with me because I feel like some coaches forget they’re under NCAA regulations and fall off but everybody makes mistakes.”
Poythress has similar things to say. “His negative reputation really doesn’t matter to me because I want to get a relationship with him first before I judge him.”
*Photo courtesy of Daryl Paunil, National Recruiting Spotlight’s photographer.