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Calipari explains how he helps players make their NBA decisions

Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics Staff

Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics Staff

Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics Staff

What else did John Calipari say during his appearance on KSR this morning? He talked a lot about the process of helping his players decide whether or not to go pro, and said after a two hour nap in his favorite chair when the team got back from Dallas, he was back in the office, calling GMs to gather information to aide the players in their decisions.

“That day, I probably called ten GMs and what I was getting was ‘give me the information. Tell me where you think, what’s their range? Tell me, if this young man comes back, can I help him improve himself in the draft?’ Because if the guy says to me know, I’m telling the kid he’s gotta go. I can’t help you anymore. That’s where you are, you’ve gotta improve yourself in those workouts.”

Cal mentioned one player in particular who wasn’t thinking at all about the NBA, and then Cal found out some are considering him a first round pick:

“There was one player on the bus to the airport that next morning that said to me–I went to all of them and ‘do you want me to explore your NBA options?’ One of the kids told me no. As I was doing all of the other research, they were throwing his name in, and a couple of them told me he could be a first round pick. So, I had to call him back in and say, ‘I know what you said to me, but you and your mom need to sit down and talk about this because here’s some of the information I’m getting.'”

Gotta be Marcus Lee, right?

Cal said that while he hopes all of the players come back, for certain ones, “if you’re in the first round, you’ve gotta go do this, if you’re in the lottery, you’ve gotta go do this.” In fact, if a player wants to come back, he has them sit down and explain why, like Patrick Patterson did back in 2009. If those reasons are “logical and well thought out,” Cal’s fine with it. On the other side, if a player wants to go pro even if he’s projected to go in the second round, he’ll ask them to explain it as well. “There are other guys, and I’m like ‘you’re going to be in the second round, why would you do this?’ ‘I’m built for it.'” (Dakari?) Even then, Cal says it’s the player’s decision, and he won’t try to convince them otherwise, and will do whatever he can to help him become a first rounder.

When pressed, Cal didn’t say how many players he thinks would go pro because he has no idea, only that he doesn’t think “all eight will leave”:

“You obviously know that there’s a couple, they’re gonna go, and then there’s 3 or 4 that are like ‘what will you guys do?’ At this point? I don’t know. I don’t think all eight will leave. How about that? We finally will have some guys come back. Wooo! I don’t think eight will go, but five, six, four, I don’t know.”

Listen to Cal’s entire interview below:

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 Comments for Calipari explains how he helps players make their NBA decisions



  1. me
    12:12 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Pretty obvious the one who has to re-think based on GM feedback is Dakari.



  2. The Loco Pollo
    12:15 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I agree. Especially since he said, “you and your mom.”

    I know Marcus Lee’s older brother has been the one who dealt with media both during recruitment and the season so I don’t think Cal would single out his mom.



  3. I Sayy
    12:15 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I wonder if Dakari knows who Daniel Orton is? Hmm…Probably not since he is in the D-League



    • inlinefor9
      2:03 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      You can’t compare Dakari to Orton. Not in game, skill, attitude, drive. Not in any way. So just stop.



  4. rick roy
    12:24 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Are you serious? Lee? Matt doesnt actually pay you, right? Dakari is for sure the person. Willie is prob the second.



    • BBN
      12:31 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      I agree, I hope that was a failed attempt at a joke. It is obviously Dakari.



    • JPhelps
      10:06 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      I’ve thought all day one of the Harrison’s was the second… I believe Chad Ford’s speculation. He said the exact same thing 24 hours ago.



  5. RealCatsFan
    12:30 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Alex, possibly?



  6. ciphercomplete
    12:31 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    There is no second guy. Cal said “There are other guys..”. Cal has had guys leave early (and not just at UK) and go in the second round. He was just giving an example of how the conversation with those type of guys goes. He was not specifically talking about guys on this year’s team.

    The first guy is clearly Lee, unless you think Dakari had already decided to come back and did NOT want Cal to explore his NBA options. That doesn’t sound plausible to me.



    • Rick Roy
      12:37 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Clearly Lee? Clealry not Lee. You think someone would draft him in the first round this year? Thats funny. The mom comment assures its Dakari. Doesnt have a dad. You’re right about the second guy just being an example tho.



    • ciphercomplete
      12:42 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      You are assuming that most NBA GM’s are intelligent. Who was drafted #1 last year? Lee is a freak athlete and yes I do think a GM would be stupid enough to draft him based on potential alone they do it all the time.

      With Dakari, I just can’t imagine that he would not at least want Cal to put out feelers for him. Cal specifically said the guy in question was not interested in what the NBA had to say at this point.



    • ciphercomplete
      12:45 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Maybe it was Alex, but I’m not buying it being Dakari.



  7. UKBlue1!
    12:31 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Maybe I am missing something but Dakari needs to work on the following…muscle and defense. Yes, he is capable of eventually playing in NBA. However, at this time I can’t see why it wouldn’t be in his best interest to come back to school for another year. Daniel Orton, could have done a lot more with himself if he would have stayed in school for 1 or 2 more years. I don’t think he has played more than 1/2 a year in the four years he left. I think Dakari would do better but come on. He is not ready to play against NBA centers.



    • RealCatsFan
      12:34 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      I agree that Dakari would benefit with another year, but with Towns coming in, and the possibility of Willie coming back, I have too wonder how that will affect his decision. I think Dakari has a much better attitude and work ethic than Orton had, but he does need to work on his jumping ability. I have to wonder sometimes if he could jump over a phone book. 🙂 Still, I loved having him as a Cat and really hope he comes back for year two.



  8. RealCatsFan
    12:31 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Pitino was discussing this subject with Russ.



    • lonnieb
      4:14 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      What subject? Russ looked at draft last year and found out he would be a late 2nd round pick…just like he is this year



  9. Mc
    12:33 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I agree the first statement is Dakari. I’ve heard that his intent was to be in school for 2 years.

    The “I’m built for it” comment could be anyone other than Lee in my opinion. It’s probably not Willie, JY, or Randle since they are projected first rounders based on everything I’ve seen. So it’s either one of the twins, or Poythress I guess. I don’t think it’s Poythress since he wants to go to school so I’ve now narrowed it down to one of the twins. Ruh roh.



    • Mc
      12:36 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Since I didn’t hear the context of what he said, maybe he was referring to someone from a different year.



  10. bbr
    12:35 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    That all sounds great and altruistic and all but what reason would a NBA GM have to be completely honest? From the GM’s standpoint the more that come out the better. Some kid comes out early thinking he is a first rounder when he’s not – the NBA GM can pick him up in the second round with little to no risk. If he doesn’t cut it after being drafted he simply doesn’t make the team (because 2nd rounders essentially have to try out) and the GM has lost nothing.



    • Mc
      12:36 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Fool me once….



    • Brandon
      12:39 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      The thing with that idea is that if something like that were to happen it would kill any kind of communication between Cal and whoever set him up like that. Its a two way street as far as trust. Im pretty sure Calipari is calling GMs he trusts the most.



    • bbr
      12:45 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Why? No way Cal could hold them to it. Just because they say they think a player could be a first rounder they are not committing to draft them.



    • inside info
      1:26 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      If a GM did that to Cal then the GM and that team’s scouts would be barred from UK’s private practices. The GMs want access to Cal just as much as Cal wants access to the GMs.



    • bbr
      3:53 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Did what to Cal? How the heck could Cal know if they did anything or not? He’s not telling Cal that he is going to draft the kid, he is simply saying he could be a first rounder. That GM could easily come back and say I thought he was a first rounder but he didn’t meet the specific needs of our team this year.



  11. John Ellis
    12:37 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    The second round reference I suspect is Archie from last year. Cal made it obvious he advised him to stay.
    They need to consider that if they all come out they’ll bump each other into the second round. The Kentucky effect.



    • Walls
      2:52 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Agreed, exactly what I thought too. Just sounds like an Archie response too.



  12. UK
    12:43 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I love that Cal calls out the NCAA again.



  13. Jodie Meeks
    12:46 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    The second round pick was me. He told me, “I want to coach you…”



  14. Big Blue Sean
    12:46 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Lol Marcus Lee??? Thats way off…

    #1 – He is talking about Dakari. Dakari reclassified and always thought of himself as a 2 year player because of that. Also, the only 2 players that it is them and their mother is Julius and Dakari….. Like I said, its Dakari and not Lee

    #2 – Its Archie that said he was “built for the NBA”… because he was referring to his game…the slashing and drawing fouls and getting to the line. The comment wasnt specific for this year.



    • UKBlue1!
      1:00 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Cal’s conversation last year with Archie went something like….Archie: I going Pro. Coach Cal: I support you in your decision. He had made up his mind before he got on campus.



  15. Wow
    12:57 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Uofl has just confirmed Harrell is coming back. Wow.



    • UKBlue1!
      1:12 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      If true, He is getting bad advice. He is better than 3-4 of our guys thinking about going now.



    • bbr
      3:56 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Maybe he likes what he is doing. Its not like if he decides to wait and nt go to the NBA the salary money just all of a sudden disappears



    • lonnieb
      4:18 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      Harrell is not better than our guys. He has no offense ability what so ever. It get a lot harder in the nba to be a successful garbage man. Lob it to so I can dunk. I could not even average 10 boards a game and I was the only big guy on the team



  16. Listentotheexpert
    12:59 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    This is how it will play out….

    Randle, Young, Cauley-Stein….GONE
    Poythress, Harrison Twins, Johnson, Lee (All potential lottery picks next year)….RETURN

    Our team will be 9-10 deep next year. Look the Hell Out. Pack your bags to Indy…..



  17. arlo
    1:00 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    i’m not sure cal was even referring to someone this year.



  18. Daniel
    1:04 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t understand how that’s crazy to think that’s Marcus Lee… that sounds logically to be Marcus Lee in my opinion, you don’t think Dakari thought about going pro after the season?



  19. EatTheyFeet
    1:12 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    The “I’m built for it” guy HAS to be……Archie Goodwin. Loved Archie, but he was projected to go first round an was not ready for the league. Worked out pretty good for him though.



  20. EatTheyFeet
    1:14 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Edit….he was projected to go second round. I remember being a little surprised that he left after year one.



  21. Dondontknow
    1:28 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Just my opinion but with Cal’s NBA experience it seems to me he would know which of these players can play in the NBA next year or not! Or he should know who can in the next two to three years! Randle is the only one who is close to being able to play and give a team some valuable minutes! If he’s wanting some of these players to go because of some of the recruits coming in then that’s not what is best for the current players. Dakari, James Young and WCS are not NBA ready players. Based solely on potential these guys could go pro but as players going in and making a difference is not going to happen. I love UK and wish the best for the players but hate to see them go the D-league and then out after a couple years. Daniel Orton is twice as athletic as Dakari and twice as physical as WCS and look where he is! James Young-please come back for another year cause just hate to see you sitting on the bench for someone the next two to three years when you can be a legend at Kentucky!



    • bbr
      3:55 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      The NBA doesn’t even know who can play in the NBA next year. Last year’s first pick hardly sees the floor this season.



    • lonnieb
      4:22 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

      There is only 3/4 players per draft usually that are READY to play and see the floor



  22. ukfaninohio
    1:29 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t get what cal means when he say’s he is all about the players then say’s he doesn’t like the one and done rule and they should have to stay two years.But he makes his players explain to him why they would come back if there a high draft pick.Just don’t get if he’s saying it’s good for the kids to leave after one year or best to stay two seems like he’s sayin both.



  23. somerset bill
    3:13 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    on the dan patrick show cal said of lee: “they’re talking about him being a top 20 pick” after his performance in the tournament. so lee could have been that player who didn’t ask to hear evaluations from cal’s contacts.



  24. John
    4:18 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    If they want to come back, they shouldn’t have to explain why they want to come back. If they aren’t ready for the NBA, the older, more mature players will eat them alive. They are college students. Let them get an education and if they want to chance the NBA, let them make the decision on whether they are ready or not.



  25. Cal
    5:16 pm April 14, 2014 Permalink

    Notice that Coach Cal slammed “big government” being puppet-masters. My man.



  26. WildcatSheli
    8:57 am April 15, 2014 Permalink

    I recorded The Dan Patrick Show on my TV’s DVR. The cameras rolled even when they were off the radio airwaves. Cal told him some were projecting Lee to be a Top 20 Draft pick and he said, “they talk about one-and-done, that would be one-game-and-done!” He didn’t say whether or not Lee would go, though, but he did throw it out there.