Since arriving in Lexington, every time there’s been an NBA head coaching vacancy John Calipari’s name has entered the conversation. Regardless of validity, fans worry. Last week John Calipari told us to worry no more.
“My son’s now here so my son’s walking on, I’m not gonna leave,” the 57-year-old Calipari told ESPN.com. “I would say four to five years is a lock and then after that, [shoot], I may be hanging it up. At that point I’d be 60, 61. I never thought I would coach past the age of 60 because I’m not … basketball isn’t my life.”
After those four to five years, John Calipari will have spent 12 years as the Kentucky head basketball coach, only one less than Joe B. Hall. He could coach a year or two longer to become the school’s second-most tenured coach, but what will he accomplish during his time? Based on his first seven years, here’s what we can estimate will happen by the time he hangs up his whistle.
John Calipari has never been one to back away from lofty goals. He’s never been shy about completing a perfect season. Last summer he shared an equally lofty goal.
“Let’s get half the All-Star Game came through here, that would be a fun thing to see,” Calipari said.
So far he’s had 30 players drafted. All of their names were present on the shoes he wore at Sunday night’s combine. Entering this season, 24 players are on active rosters. Adding almost four players onto a roster per year, he could conservatively add 20 more players into the NBA in the next five years.
Even though he will probably never have half the All-Star game roster filled with former Cats, he could put more than 50 of his former players into the NBA, or more. What do you think?
Before I arrived onto UK’s campus in the fall of 2010, I had never experienced a Final Four, with only faint memories of the ’98 National Championship. Then Calipari took UK to four Final Fours in five years.
In a historical context, Calipari teams account for just under 25% of the school’s 17 appearances. Eleven of those trip to the national semifinals occurred before the field was expanded to 64 teams. The smaller fields make it impossible to pass Adolph Rupp, but Calipari could pass Joe B. Hall, who made seven trips to the Final Four in 13 years when the field was smaller. It wouldn’t be easy, but could Cal go to three Final Fours in five years?
This is where things get difficult and become divisive. Three times Cal has had the best team in the country, but they fell short in 2010 and 2015. Conversely, the 2014 team and 2011 team overachieved, reaching the National Championship game and Final Four.
The randomness of the NCAA Tournament is why we love March Madness, but it makes it impossible to predict. With an extraordinary amount of talent that never seems to be in short supply, Calipari should end his time at Kentucky with more than one title, but that doesn’t mean it’s a given. If he doesn’t get another one, many would call it a failure.
I don’t believe Calipari will leave as soon as Brad does. A man that can’t sit still, Cal will at least coach for 13 years to tie his friend Joe B. Hall, maybe even more than that.
The NBA’s best players will be Calipari-pros and he’ll probably go to at least three more Final Fours, but predicting National Championships is a tricky business. I’m going to hope for two more, but my mother always taught me to “hope for the best and expect the worse.”