John Calipari talked a lot about the seniors today, and while I already shared some of those comments with you, there are some leftovers worth going over. Let’s get to it.
1. Calipari knew when he watched Dom play in the Sweet 16 in Rupp that he could make it at Kentucky
Dominique’s journey to UK started when former Cat and grad assistant Marquis Estill convinced Calipari to watch Dom play in the Sweet 16 at Rupp the year Kentucky went to the NIT. Calipari said Dom proved to him that day that he could handle the pressure that comes with playing at Kentucky.
“You saw a guy that wasn’t afraid of the moment. You walk in the building and those events, that’s a big deal now. If you grew up in this state and you’re in Rupp Arena and you’re playing at the end of the season and you’re making plays and you’re not afraid, it means you can play here. This isn’t for everybody. You saw that in him.”
2. What was his first impression of Derek?
“With Derek, it was a potential of oh my gosh, this young man here, the length, the ability to shoot the ball, the skill set, we just have to pull this all together,” Cal said before going on a lengthy aside about how some players come into the program with unrealistic expectations. “These three came in knowing what they want to do.”
3. Some players on this team could learn from Derek and Dom’s perseverance
Unlike some of their former teammates, Derek and Dom stuck it out at Kentucky all four years instead of transferring out. Calipari said a few guys on his current team could learn from their perseverance.
“I think again, you have guys that come in and understand what this is. Those two understood it. So did Mychal. This is not easy, it’s not for everybody, is this what you want before you come in and if it is, you’ll stick it out. If you’re delusional, sometimes you’d say, ‘I thought I’d be–‘ What? There’s no magic wand here. Not every kid is within six months be all this and this. Sometimes, it takes guys longer. You try to talk, we’ve got a couple guys on this team, it’s going take you a little longer. Are you willing to work or do you think by, I’ll run and it’ll happen for me somewhere else. Okay, that’s what you believe.”
4. Cal said he’s taken a recruit sight unseen once at Kentucky and it backfired
When asked if he would have taken Dominique without watching him play in the Sweet 16 in 2013, Cal said probably, but he’s very gun shy about taking recruits he hasn’t watched play in person.
“The only thing is, I hate to take guys sight unseen. Every time I’ve done that in my career, I’ve been wrong. I’m gun shy about that. Even here I did it once, and it was a mistake.”
Gotta be Ryan Harrow, right?
5. He’s not the only staff member losing sleep right now
This morning, Calipari tweeted that the past two nights, he’s woken up at 3 a.m. with his mind racing. He was asked about it today and said he’s not the only staff member not sleeping well right now.
“The last couple of days I’ve just, my mind’s been racing and I kind jumped up, and I told the staff that. Eric (Lindsey) and my wife (Ellen) said, ‘What, do you have anxiety?’ I just laugh. I said, ‘No I don’t have anxiety. I give anxiety.’ And then Kenny Payne was laughing. He said, ‘I woke up in the middle of the night yelling at Bam.’ [Laughter.] And I said, ‘All of us are losing our minds right now.’ As you go through this, this consumes you. I know, you know, people know I do other things. I have to because I’ll wake up at 3 in the morning if I’m not. My mind’s got to be consumed with some other stuff, not just basketball, because even when I’m sleeping that stuff happens. Why didn’t he rebound? What? Where am I? So, we just put it out because we laughed.”
A GIF because Calipari is the best at talking with his hands:
They call it March Madness for a reason, you know.