John Calipari met with his favorite media friends this morning to recap his national book tour and the Cats’ season. Cal was about thirty minutes late because he was “under the weather,” (and who can blame him?) but took questions for about thirty minutes. Here’s the stuff we haven’t already heard in the past few days:
Cal had a really good day yesterday
Yesterday, Cal did a few morning shows, had lunch with Bill Clinton, and ended the day watching his former players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Chris Douglas-Roberts play in Charlotte. He was also able to visit with Derrick Rose, who is recovering from an injury but is still traveling with the team. “It was a good day,” Cal said.
For Cal, a big highlight of the day was the two-hour lunch with President Bill Clinton. Cal said he asked Clinton “What would you do if you were in my shoes coaching Division 1 basketball right now?,” and although he didn’t share it with reporters, Cal said the former President’s response was pretty predictable. “You could almost predict his answer because he’s always been about people.” Players first = people first.
Cal doesn’t know what the players will do
The question of the moment is which players will stay and which players will go to the NBA. Cal said he has “no idea” what the players will do, but he has talked to about 19 GMs to gather information for them. He said he’s talked to all of the players, some while they were still in Dallas, and talked to the NBA folks again yesterday to get updates. Cal said he’s being careful to give that information directly to the parents so it doesn’t get distorted along the way. “I don’t want there to be any filter,” Cal said. “Happy, sad, angry, that’s it.”
Cal was “stunned” Willie decided to come back
Like many of us, Calipari said he was “stunned” by Willie Cauley-Stein’s decision to come back to school, and said he wasn’t even considering that option for him. In fact, when he sat down with Willie to talk about his decision, he reflected on how much the talented 7-footer has grown since he’s known him. “Willie, you know when I went to your high school the first time, you had a tennis racket in your hand. The second time I went to your high school, you were playing whiffle ball. And the third time I went to your high school, you were playing kickball. I never saw you with a basketball. I saw you play two football games, where I had a 7′ cornerback/wide receiver.” Wait, Willie played wide receiver??
Cal said Willie told him this when he informed him of his decision to come back: “You know coach, I’m in no hurry to leave. I love going to school, I’m going to be closer to my degree, I still have to grow a player, and we left something on the table there that I’d like to try again.”
Cal confirmed that Willie had ankle surgery
As first reported by KSR, Cal confirmed that Willie had ankle surgery by “the best doctor in the world,” and said he’s got a month or so of recovery.
Still no final decision on the summer trip
Cal confirmed that the team will take a summer trip, but said he hasn’t decided where. “We’ll probably do something in the summer, but I haven’t made a total decision of what it will be. It’ll probably be something with the World Games.” That means the players will be going up against NBA guys, or as Cal put it, “get beat up by NBA guys.” Returning players, a month of practice in the summer, AND going against NBA competition? That puts the Cats well ahead of the curve once the season starts.
Cal’s hip surgery is scheduled for May 2nd
Cal said he’s scheduled his hip surgery for May 2nd in Lexington, and he’ll take about a month off to recover. Thank God.
“You’re old, you’re grumpy, go away.”
Cal spent the majority of the press conference rehashing his speech about how the NCAA needs to change some things. We’ve heard that A LOT the past few days, so I’ll spare you a full recap, but he did have a good quote in response to those who believe players should go to the league directly out of high school:
“The guys who say let them go out of high school, they don’t want to coach against them. It’s as simple as that,” Cal said. “You’re old. You’re grumpy. Go away.”
He hasn’t hired an assistant yet
Despite rumblings to the contrary, Cal said he hasn’t hired an assistant coach yet. “I haven’t had time. There’s no one I’ve sat down and said, ‘I want you to do this.’ But I will. I haven’t gone through the process. I’ve called some people up. I have work to do.”
First, rest up a little, Coach.