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Calipari: “I’ve had my heart broken” by players that went pro but weren’t ready


John Calipari’s latest podcast guest is former NFL great Jason Taylor, a regular participant in Cal’s annual fantasy camp. Like Calipari, Taylor hails from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, and the two spend some time chatting about his career and what advice Taylor, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, would give to aspiring professional athletes. That’s all fine and good, but the most interesting part to me came about ten minutes in when Calipari, who is famous for not holding his players back from going pro, described how difficult it can be to see kids who aren’t ready to make the leap to the next level leave.

“I feel a sense of responsibility that this young man make it,” Cal said. “That’s why when kids leave me earlier than they should, sometimes it breaks my heart because I know they needed more time. You shouldn’t go yet, but I’m not going to hold you back because it’s your decision and your life has to be your life but I’ve had my heart broken — not that I’m mad — I just know it’s going to be a hard road and that I cannot play a part of that road. I’m done now. And you’re going to be out there, son, by yourself, fighting those sharks.”

I can think of a handful of players Cal may be referring to here, from Dakari Johnson to Marquis Teague to maybe even Isaac Humphries. For a man with a reputation for pushing kids out of the door, it’s always interesting to me to hear Cal reflect on those he knows aren’t ready for the next level. Unlike some coaches, he still lets them go because, as he said, it’s not about him. It’s about them.

To listen, subscribe to Cal Cast on iTunes, Stitcher, or Podbay.

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.

20 Comments for Calipari: “I’ve had my heart broken” by players that went pro but weren’t ready

  1. njCat
    5:26 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

    Sometimes 19 year olds don’t know what’s best for them. For Cal to abdicate his responsibility for these kids by saying ‘it’s about them, not me’ is a cop out. If he really cared about them he would try and protect them from the sharks and TELL them what’s best for them.

    This is a truly amazing admission on his part.

    • 8xchamp
      5:31 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      It’s called freedom squirt. Not a cop out. We live in America. You make your own choices and have to live with them. And only you are responsible for them. Kids leave, Cal can’t force them to do anything. Let alone stay.

    • njCat
      5:57 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      Of course the kids are going to make the decision. I’m just saying Cal should advise them not to go if they’re not ready. No one is in a better position to advise them than Cal, particularly since he is so publicly supportive of the ones who ARE ready to leave.

    • BigBlueMeade
      6:18 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      He does advise them at the end of each season he has one on one meetings with each of them, and if they decide to go he can tell them, here is what I think and here’s the mock drafts, but he isn’t going to pursue them and try to force them to back out of their decision.

    • tbbucs86
      6:08 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      Thats ludacris to think Cal does not tell his players they aren’t ready. Briscoe made his own decision. Goodwin was not ready but Cal tells his players the truth.

    • bdmnky81
      8:09 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      At age 19 i was fighting in a war in Iraq. Did my parents abdicate their responsibility by “allowing” me to join the USMC?!? Quit with the cal hate and understand sometimes you have to step back and allow young men to make their own decisions. Being captian hindsight doesnt make you intelligent…

    • Megan
      12:16 pm April 22, 2017 Permalink

      If you think your service gives you carte blanche to lash out at other people, jarhead, you’re sadly mistaken. Don’t play that card and then act like an ass. njCat did nothing to deserve your anger. Did you have that issue before you enlisted, or did your service exacerbate the problem?

      And if you think turning 18 makes you a man, you need to reexamine your own intelligence. The male brain doesn’t fully develop or mature until age 25. You don’t yet know how to handle a woman, but you can handle an M4 and kill other human beings. Congrats. You have something in common with a child soldier in Uganda. Sometimes a teenager breaks his coach’s heart by not listening. Sometimes he breaks his parents’ hearts by doing the same.

      There are four types of people who join the military. For some, it’s a family trade. Others are patriots, eager to serve. Next, you have those who just need a job. Than there’s the kind who want a legal means of killing other people. Which were you?

  2. donjohnson
    5:36 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

    I think Teague and made great decisions to leave. He would have never had another shot as a 1st round pick. Dakari would have been amazing in the 80”s. Does not have physical tools to play in todays NBA. No amount of time at UK would have changed that. Oddly enough i think humpries is a much better NBA prospect than dakari. BAM is an example of so.eone who could come back and drastically change what it means financially. He has physical tools. Develop a decent post move keep.shooting 15 footer that he improved on at end of this year and rebound all year like at end of season he will be top 6/7 next year vs 20’s this year. The hardest part is all the players think they are good enough and no matter where drafted they will figure it out. They all know the life changing money is 2nd contract

  3. Catcasey1
    5:42 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink


  4. samara1963
    5:55 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

    Cal does give them his opinion, about where they might be going in the draft. That they will benefit to come back another year. But, if the player has his heart or mind set on going, Cal does whatever he can to get them drafted. What more do you want Cal to do?

  5. Big DAWG Loggin
    6:50 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

    I’m calling bool sheet.
    We need not do the math.
    Nor, do the recruits.
    They are all called OAD for a reason
    That’s CAL’s deal.
    He recruits OAD.
    Ad infintum.

  6. Big DAWG Loggin
    6:50 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink


  7. Luether
    7:01 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

    Add Archie Goodwin, Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, and both Harrison Twins to your list…

    • JMFATZ47
      7:54 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      Luether, Way to name 4 millionaires to prove your point. Such idiots they are.

    • BigBlueMeade
      8:19 pm April 21, 2017 Permalink

      The only one on your list that I agree with is Orton. Liggins and the Twins would never had higher draft stock.

    • dballrb
      2:37 am April 22, 2017 Permalink

      Luether,what are you doing on this side of the river lurking in the shadows with your creeper van?Get back on your side!!!

    • catsarerunnin
      7:48 am April 22, 2017 Permalink

      Looney Luether got those players names from his “sources”….

  8. Megan
    12:18 pm April 22, 2017 Permalink

    So Cal won’t prevent a player from leaving, even if he believes they should stay. But he’ll prevent a player from staying if believes they should go (Dejuan Wagner, Cuz et al.). How does he reconcile that with the principle that “it’s your decision and your life has to be your life”?