ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky.– During a normal Kentucky basketball off eason John Calipari would have had talked about his completed roster, summer plans and the upcoming season during his UK Satellite Basketball Camp media opportunities.
But this isn’t a normal UK offseason. Kentucky is still waiting on Ashton Hagans to officially reclassify and the Cats appear to be the leader for Stanford grad-trasnfer Travis Reid.
While the rest of the UK team put kids through drills, two pieces appeared to be missing, and Calipari was asked about Travis and plenty other offseason questions.
On grad-transfers: My history, everybody knows. I’ve seen the coach at Drexel get fired. I’ve seen the coach at Cleveland State get fired. And I’ve said, ‘This isn’t right. It’s not right for the game and it’s not right for those coaches.’ In the same sense I have a responsibility to this university and it’s not a rule I developed. If we take advantage of it it will be a rule I developed. It’s not a rule I’m even in favor of, but my job is to make sure this program is in the best position it can be in.
On taking a transfer from a power five school versus a midmajor: It’s easier for me to swallow, but I look at this the same way. If they go to a deeper draft, if they go to kids coming out of high school. That may be another way this unfolds, doing it the other way, which is older players coming into to sure up younger players. We’ll just see how it plays out.
On P.J. coming back: … The decision he made was for him. We had five others decide not to come back. That’s the process. Whether we have kids that go through the process and hear what they want to hear, or don’t hear what they want to hear. It’s their choice to make those decisions. P.J., for us it’s a big deal, but I want it to be a bigger deal for him then it is for us and the program.
On if Cal likes this time of year: I wish we could extend the summer to maybe nine months instead of just three-and-half and three. I’d like to put my toes up somewhere, but, you know. Being around the guys, today I saw them for the first time, just being around the guys is really exciting. I’ll say it again, we may have a veteran group, three, four guys with a young group. Those are the kind of teams that I’ve had success with here with one of those teams.
On how P.J. can get better: Be in better shape. Improve his skills, be more consistent. Be more consistent handling the balls so you have more assists than turnovers. Improve the three-point shooting and the foul shooting and all those things. That’s work. That’s getting in the gym and work. How about you want to lose some weight so you can play. Again, be that playmaker. To be the playmaker, all the things are easily improved by getting in the gym.
And he knows it. He knows there’s no question he’s good where he is. Let’s go. Let’s take it. I believe he will. I think this team will need him to be what he can be for us to be successful.
On Nick Richard’s development: I haven’t seen him play yet. I don’t know when we will start playing but my guess is he’s better. He looks more confident when I see him now than when I did a year ago as a person, which is important. It’s all part of it.
On if any of the NBA decisions surprised him: I roll with whatever it is. I like to coach kids for four years but I get it. They go through the process. They get the information. They get it directly from the NBA. I’m not that involved with it. If you ask P.J. how much did you and coach talk he would tell you I took him to dinner at the NBA Combine with Shai, Hami and (P.J.’s) dad. That was it. Then it’s like he’s coming back and let’s go we have work to do.
On who helps them with their decisions: The NBA talks directly to me that’s why they do the combine. So, Kenny (Payne) probably talked to the dad a few times. I probably talked Paul once or twice. It was more about you were going to get information from these people. If I tried to encourage strongly for a kid to comeback, it just doesn’t work. I may tell people ‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’ or ‘The way I’m seeing this’, but if they don’t agree with me then I agree with them.
On if anticipates any extra help this year: It’s a possibility.
On seeing sophomores step up their game: Here’s the thing I would tell you- if you’re running from a college situation because you think the NBA will be easier, what did you say? No college situation is easier than an NBA situation, but the greatest thing about being in this program is you are challenged. You are having to compete. You are having to fight and battle. Not only to create your own space in the program but outside every game is a war. That’s why in March we play our best because we just go through a gauntlet where other teams may not go through the same gauntlet that we go through.
Kids returning want this. That’s why they return, ‘I’m not afraid of anybody. Let’s go. Bring in who you want. I’m ready. I’m more prepared, I’ve been here.’ So, those are the kind of kids that do this.
On the SEC’s strength next season and if that will ever change his style of scheduling: Our schedule ended up being one of the top two or three schedules, if you talk the Power Five we were probably by far the best, but no. We’re kinda locked into some games, a couple of the challenges, a couple home-and-homes, the Big XII and us playing that. We’re kinda locked in and there may be some games that are added to the schedule but at the end of the day we’re a top five schedule. ‘We need more!’ ‘How about if you played (this schedule)?’ ‘We need less!’
I want to challenge these kids but I don’t want to bury them.
On JR Smith’s NBA Finals Game One mistake: Look, my whole thing, I’ll give you an example of how it could have happened. That’s the biggest moment. The other guy is shooting and he makes one and your mind says ‘If he makes this one we’re up one and we’re winning this. We’re going to win this in Golden State. If he makes this we’re up one, and he misses and your mind races and you grab the ball still thinking you’re up one. I could see, my thing is they need him to win. It’s not a football game. That wasn’t the Super Bowl. You’ve got more games. They need him to win. You hate to say one play was worse than the others, but that was one where everybody in the world says ‘How did he do this?’ Well, just think about this. Things were going through the kid’s mind. He’s a man but it’s unfortunate that it happened.
I didn’t know the NBA could change a charge call. I had no idea. I knew they could make the call in the arc, so I’m going back to the NCAA and saying let us change these charge calls. If you can go back and look on tape and it’s obvious he moved, I’m good with it because you get the right call. Well, what if you won, it’s what’s the right call. So, if you go back to the monitor only because the guy stepped out that’s why they won, but if you go back to the monitor now you can change the call. I was like ‘what?’ and I’m all for that and I’m voting for that.