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John Calipari speaks out about issues Nerlens Noel’s injury raises

John Calipari didn’t take long to send a message in the aftermath of Nerlens Noel’s season-ending ACL injury. Usually Calipari’s messages are directed mostly toward Big Blue Nation, and sometimes even future recruits. Tonight, his message seems to have a larger intended audience. Calipari’s message from his article tonight is this:”Let’s do everything we can to take care of our kids.”

The article starts out with a rather shocking stat when you think about it. In Calipari’s 22 years of being a men’s college basketball head coach, Noel’s injury is the first season-ending injury for one of his players to occur during the season. Think about that for a moment. Twenty two years, and Nerlens Noel is the first. That stat in and of itself is absurd.

Calipari admitted that when an injury such as the one Noel incurred on Tuesday night takes place, the initial reaction is often “why did this happen?” Calipari said that Nerlens is going to be just fine though, and that he spoke with him about 3 things yesterday:

1. I told him that this is an injury that Adrian Peterson and others have come back from quickly and were better after than they were before.

2. If the injury would have been more than we thought– which it wasn’t– you have insurance, which will make you an instant millionaire.

3. If the rehab is longer than you think or you don’t feel like you are prepared to take the next step, you’re academically in a good place to where you can come back and be the best big man in the country next year as you work through it

Calipari then went on to discuss a number of other issues that he believes we should all be talking about more. To paraphrase, here are some of the issues:

— Every year, 5 or 6 of Kentucky’s players are insured as part of the NCAA Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program in case they suffer a career-ending injury. His players don’t have to get it, but they talk to them about the advantages and disadvantages. *ONLY CAREER ENDING INJURIES

— Cal’s problem with the insurance is that the players have to agree to pay a premium. Cal asks, “why wouldn’t the school or NCAA (who is making billions off of these kids) not pay it?” If a player takes the insurance and doesn’t end up in the NBA, they are still obligated to pay the money back.

— On injuries like this leading people to say that kids should be able to leave for the NBA right out of high school: What if the kid is injured (career-ending) during his senior year of high school? Or junior year? Etc.

— On making the jump to the D-League if they leave straight from high school: Cal says minor league basketball is not like minor league baseball where you can work your way through the ranks. “That’s a man’s league (D-League), not suited for high school kids.” Cal says that if you ask any player in the NBA, they would admit that college is the best training ground.


And in perhaps Calipari’s most poignant message, he talks about a potentially different landscape than what we are accustomed to in college basketball. His vision and questions he raises once again show that he is constantly thinking of ways to make the system better for the kids. Here are his thoughts in full:

“So what are we preparing these kids for, failure? Why wouldn’t we try to encourage kids to be in school longer than one year? Why wouldn’t we pay for their disability insurance? Why wouldn’t we give these kids a stipend? Why wouldn’t we make loans available for their families while they’re in school so they’re not encouraged to do something that’s not in their best interest for financial reasons? Are you telling me that a year of college did not help John Wall or Anthony Davis or Nerlens Noel? One year worked, so let’s try two.

If the NBA Players Association won’t work with the NCAA to make it mandatory, let’s encourage the kids and educate them on why this is a better route. If we can keep kids in school two years, they are so close to graduating that it makes it easier to see themselves coming back to school to finish. Understand that if a kid goes to college for two years and three summers, he will be a little more than a year away from a college degree. And what about the ripple effect of that education? Their children can now say, “My dad did it so I can do it too.”

Why wouldn’t we encourage this?”

I really encourage everyone to go read the article in full on Calipari shows once again that he is not only a forward-thinker when it comes to the institution and system of college basketball, but that he also is constantly striving to find ways to make it better for the young men he coaches.

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

27 Comments for John Calipari speaks out about issues Nerlens Noel’s injury raises

  1. Tickle
    7:06 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    When Cal talks about football and says “that kid at South Carolina”, does he mean Marcus Lattimore or Jadaveon Clowney?

  2. steve
    7:06 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Coach Cal on the cutting edge as usual. The haters should read the article and maybe it might change a few minds on fixing the problem with the one and dones.

  3. brain
    7:07 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Cal cares. When he says players 1st he means it. Great man and coach. Proud to have him at UK.

  4. Honesty
    7:08 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Be real. John Calipari only wants a 2 year rule so he can keep these kids longer. That is his PRIMARY concern. Otherwise he would be clamoring for kids to be able to go out of high school only. He is PRAYING he never has to risk getting burned by the top 10 kids he recruits so well like Pitino did with Sebastian Telfair. Any other argument is short sighted and misses the point that this whole enterprise is a business.

  5. Experienced
    7:12 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t think it’s so much “forward thinking” as much as its just common sense.

  6. Tickle
    7:15 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    2) You can’t change a hater’s mind. #4 proves that point.

  7. Honesty?
    7:17 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Yes, it’s a business. And every coach in America wants the best players the longest time to play with their teams.

    However, given that the kids are also getting an education, able to mature emotionally AND physically, as well as hammer on the fundamentals of defense and teamwork instead of being dunk machines in high school ball… does this not benefit the kids as well?

    Look at any kid Cal has had and all of them left better than arrived, even after just one year.

    He absolutely is right about 2 years. And I bet Orton and even Cousins could’ve benefitted from a second year despite Cal also needing them.

  8. Bigbluestorm
    7:21 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Well if we had a guard that didn’t turn the ball over all the time, Nerlens would’nt be hurt, Mays pretty much just handed the ball over to them, then it was off to the races and Nerlens lost.

  9. gocats
    7:28 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    8 – are you seriously blaming his injury on Mays?

  10. me
    7:35 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Ally, KSR better hold on to you as long as they can. You’re a excellent writer and I always enjoy your post. Thanks!

  11. me
    7:36 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink


  12. mudcreekmark
    7:38 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Does this mean that Cal will try to get all these kids to come back next year? It sounds like it. I’s a double edge sword kind of thing. I’m sure that one of the biggest reasons that the best recruits are coming is because of his track record of getting players to the NBA in one year. And if the NBA would make the players stay two years I don’t think we would have back to back great recruiting classes like we have enjoyed 4 years in a row.

  13. LuvDaCats
    7:38 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Cal comments like these about the kids make me have that much more respect for him everyday…

  14. mudcreekmark
    7:44 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    13) I really do think Cal loves his players and look out for their best interest. The players that are ready and the ones that wouldn’t improve their draft status by coming back(Liggins) he does what he thinks is best for them and suggests, or makes in some cases, they go pro. By pushing these players out the door he is actually putting his job at risk each year because and he is willing to that because he cares about these kids lives more than a job.

  15. Dr. Funke
    7:46 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Everything will be fine, WCS and poythress will step up, Noel will recover and still get drafted top five

  16. Big Blue 66
    8:17 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Cal is about breaking the cycle of these kids lives, getting them out of poverty, increasing their likihood of an education and not ending it just for the current kid but generational change

  17. Seriously?
    8:27 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    4: No one who has watched Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky will agree with your ignorant statements. If Cal was only thinking of himself and his NCAA basketball record, why has he nurtured the unprecedented number of NBA draft choices from his Wildcat teams? Your logic is so flawed. As “mudcreekmark” points out, Cal advises what is best for each player, then supports them regardless of their decision. So, Terrence Jones comes back another year and wins a national championship, while Deandre Liggins goes to the League and puts food on the table for family. I’ll bet you’ve just gotten off the train which attacked Cal for being a “one-and-done” coach who manipulates the NCAA system. He has been saying for years he wishes “one-and-done” would end. Now you want to berate him for “selfishly” wanting kids to stay in school. Yes, it’s trite, but: haters just gonna hate.

  18. Bluecat
    8:32 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Let me be first to say NN comes back for his soph season at UK. rehab and timing will determine this. He is insured for millions so money is no factor. Watch and see. Patterson played three years for UK after his freshman stress fracture. Next years team has the chance to do something special and #3 may want to be part of that.

  19. In Cal We Trust
    9:27 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think that Coach Cal made very good points.

  20. Cal for POTUS
    9:27 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #4 Clearly you are a troll from anther team because if you where a UK fan you would know Cal is in favor of the baseball rule. He’s said since day one at UK that he was in favor of letting the kids go pro strait out of high school or stay in school for 2 years if they don’t! Can you imagine LeBron falling under the system now. Where ever he went would have been on probation for at least 5 years after he left. In some cases the kids are good enough to go out of high school!
    18) the only flaw in the insurance is it only pays if you dont play pro ball. Which is better then nothing but wouldn’t pay in a case like Noel’s or even in lattimores. They will play pro but may lose a lot because of draft spots lost. Noel will be fine as long as he doesn’t hurt the knee agian if he does no one will take him. Lattimore(sp?) is the one who is in a sad spot he will NEVER get a big contract he might get drafted but no team will ever give him big money which is a sham because from what I’ve read he does good things with his time like Nerlens does!

  21. julius
    9:46 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If someone disagrees with cal they’re a troll. #ksrlogic

  22. #4 is a baby
    10:02 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    21) yep pretty much. The man has delivered and put this program on top again. I see nothing the BBN has to complain about. The gripe #4 brings up is a farce because Cal has been arguing from day one just the opposite of his comment and every UK fan has herd it enough to know that. So yes I would say he’s a troll because if you where a UK fan you would know his stance on that topic!

  23. b hicks
    10:20 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    didn’t cal lose John Hood last year to an ACL?

  24. catdaddyd
    12:47 am February 15, 2013 Permalink

    Liggins putting food on the table and wearing $400 blue jeans to the UK vs DR team a couple of summers ago. This was before the 30 on 30 special about how athletes go broke though.

  25. James
    8:21 am February 15, 2013 Permalink

    I love how Cal treats his players!

  26. amirite
    8:33 am February 15, 2013 Permalink

    Cal lost Sam malone last year during the season

  27. theWilkman
    9:57 am February 15, 2013 Permalink

    I think the most interesting part of the whole article was this excerpt:

    “Could a reason for coaches wanting kids go straight to the NBA out of high school is because they can’t get them and don’t want to compete against them? My hope is that we are bigger than that, but I don’t know.”

    He brings it up towards the end as well. I haven’t heard this line of thought but with how petty and me-first a lot of these coaches seem to be, it makes a lot of sense. Thoughts?