While no one is quite sure what the college basketball season will look like yet, if a normal season is played, one of the sneaky big games on Kentucky’s out of conference schedule will be the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Although Georgia Tech won’t draw the same level of excitement of a Kansas in the Champions Classic, UCLA at the CBS Sports Classic or Louisville (assuming any of those games are played), Georgia Tech will actually be legitimately good in 2021. The Yellow Jackets quietly finished in fifth place in the ACC last year, won six of their final seven games (including a victory over Louisville) and return essentially their whole core.
So yeah, that could turn into a big one, and would also mark another reunion between John Calipari and his one-time top assistant at Memphis, Josh Pastner. The Yellow Jackets lost in Lexington 67-53 last season, with the return trip scheduled to Atlanta for this November.
Yet even years after Pastner last worked for Coach Cal, it’s a relationship that he holds dear to this day. It’s something that he explained, when he joined KSR’s Aaron Torres Podcast on Thursday.
Pastner joined Torres to talk about a lot of different things – including what a 2021 season could look like, and his time in the ACC – but when the 42-year-old coach was asked about Coach Cal, it’s clear he still holds him in high regard.
“Coach Calipari is incredible,” Pastner said. “I loved working for him. I loved being around him and being part of his program. Just from what I’ve learned, I could go on and on and on. I was just so fortunate to have been under him, to have learned under him and to have coached under him. I loved every second of it.”
“He’s an incredible human being. Look, he’s an incredible coach, an incredible person, he’s done an incredible job with his teams, and his players love him. He’s one of the greatest ever to do it in our sport. One of the greatest ever.”
Pastner spent part of the interview also reflecting on both last year’s trip to Rupp Arena as well as a potential rematch in Atlanta this November. He admitted that getting Kentucky early in the 2020-2021 season could be a benefit for his veteran team, while also describing his trip to Lexington last season as a chance to play in front of “one of the greatest fan-bases in all of sports.”
But back to Coach Cal, who as Pastner said, is one of the greatest to ever do it.
It also raises the question: With so much success in Lexington, will Coach Cal ever pursue another job outside of Kentucky? Or maybe outside of sports altogether?
Pastner thinks so.
“The way it’s going, the amount of wins, he’s winning 30 games every year,” Pastner said. “And he’s 60, but he’s a young 60, he looks young. And I think he’s going to be coaching another 10, 12 years and who knows.”
“I’ve told him this before: I think at some point he’s going to get into politics and try to run for President of the United States. People think I’m crazy when I say that. Don’t be surprised if he tries to go that route. Maybe it’s for governor, I don’t know. Or Senator. But he’s going to get into politics at some point. I really believe that.”
Pastner actually mentioned this before Georgia Tech played at Rupp Arena last year, so it’s not exactly breaking news. Still, when Pastner explained why he could see Coach Cal running for office, it makes sense.
“I think he’d be great at it,” Pastner said. “He can galvanize people, he loves people, he’s a tremendous speaker, his ideas, thoughts, processes, he’s remarkable.”
“I just don’t foresee him, that when he accomplishes what he wants to accomplish basketball wise that he is going to retire and hang out at the beach or do TV or just hang,” Pastner said. “He’s going to do his next chapter of life, and I believe his next chapter is going to be in the political field.”
To listen to the rest of Aaron’s interview with Josh Pastner, as well as updated thoughts on what the college football and college basketball seasons could look like, click here or download today’s Aaron Torres Podcast below.