John Calipari had no trouble Thursday explaining his recruiting success at Kentucky that produced four first-round NBA draft picks in 2010 and one last year. The 2012 draft could produce four, five or even six first-round draft picks from his last two recruiting classes.
“The aura of this program, the fans, the facilities, the SEC. There's a lot of things here, and then all of a sudden, they see results of other past players, and what's happening for those, why wouldn't you want to be a part of this. Now, the issue, sometimes becomes, this is not for everybody,” Calipari said.
Calipari threw in how anywhere from 550 to 600 tents were used outside Memorial Coliseum waiting for free Big Blue Madness tickets. He says that type of loyalty inspires his players.
“I really think that's one of the reasons that Michael Gilchrist is in that gym at eleven o'clock and Brandon (Knight) was and John Wall was and Marquis Teague, Darius (Miller). They do this because there's a sense of, ‘Wow, this is big, and I hope I'm for it.’ And that's why I think the guys perform,” Calipari said. “They go farther than people think and they go to the league and they do better than people think. It's kind of this whole environment, I call it the Kentucky effect, just kind of does it to you.”
Well, it does to Kentucky fans. It does to Kentucky players. It might even impact media members. Somehow I don’t think the Kentucky effect does much for Louisville fans or fans of other opposing teams.
“I'm just trying to coach my team. That's what I do. I work here at the University of Kentucky, and I coach my team. That seems to aggravate a lot of people,” he said.
It does. But that’s Calipari. If he’s coaching your team and winning, you love him. If he’s coaching against you, then you probably are not going to like him especially when he’s talking about Kentucky as the “gold standard” for everything.
“Gold standard is you want to be that standard that everybody else looks at and says, ‘That's how we want to be. I talked about our grade-point average. We had a 3.16 grade-point average last term,” the UK coach said. “And I said, let's have the highest GPA in the country. That's my challenge to my team. It doesn't mean it's absolutely a done deal, but that's what you chase, just like you're chasing a national championship. Let's chase that.
“We had the highest APR in the SEC. What I'm trying to say is, let's have the best APR in the country, and, let's chase that national title, and let's get five guys drafted in the first round. We want it all. Why shouldn't you want it all? Why not dream big dreams? Now, we may not get any of it, but I know this; we'll get closer to it if it that's what we are striving for than we would if we weren't.”