Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Why Calipari coaching the U19 National Team is a huge deal for Kentucky


In case you missed the news early this morning, ESPN is reporting that John Calipari will coach the U19 National Team in the FIBA World Championships this summer in Cairo, Egypt. This is huge for Calipari, who has wanted to be part of USA Basketball for a long time; however, it’s also big news for Kentucky. Why? Let’s break it down.

Calipari will have access to the top players in the sport

First, the obvious: recruiting. The under 19 squad is made up of the best rising college sophomores, incoming college freshmen and rising high school seniors in the country, meaning Calipari will have access to several members of the 2018 class. The 2015 U19 team featured Terrance Ferguson, Harry Giles, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum, all of whom were uncommitted at the time. Several top prospects in the 2018 class could be on the U19 team, such as Immanuel Quickley, Javonte Smart, Romeo Langford, and Cameron Reddish. As if Calipari needs help recruiting, having access to these guys this summer is a huge advantage. (And don’t worry, the FIBA World Championships ends just in time for Calipari to be back for the Peach Jam.)

It will basically be summer practice for a core group of incoming Kentucky freshmen (and maybe sophomores)

Even before word that Calipari will be coach leaked out, several future Cats had a great chance of making the U19 squad; Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, and PJ Washington all played for the gold medal-winning Team USA U18 squad last summer, along with Mohamed Bamba, one of Calipari’s few remaining prospects in the 2017 class. You’ve gotta assume Calipari will bring all of those guys, along with Jarred Vanderbilt, who has played in the USA Basketball system before, and any current freshmen that decide to come back. (Nick Richards was born in Jamaica, so he can’t participate.)

With Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, and most of this year’s freshmen class headed out the door after this season, next year’s group could be Calipari’s youngest squad ever (and that’s saying something). We saw the impact a 10-day trip to the Bahamas had on the 2014-15 squad; Calipari being able to coach the core of his new team this summer will be the head start he’s needed now more than ever.

It puts Calipari back in the USA Basketball system

It’s no secret that Calipari has wanted back in the USA Basketball system for years. Cal dipped his toe into international basketball waters in 2011 and 2012 by coaching the Dominican Republic National Team, which included Karl Towns. With Coach K stepping down as the US Men’s National Team head coach, Calipari is now back in the system. Gregg Popovich will coach the US Men’s National Team in the 2020 Olympics, but by then, he’ll be in his 70’s. Is this step #1 to Calipari eventually replacing him?

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.

15 Comments for Why Calipari coaching the U19 National Team is a huge deal for Kentucky

  1. Mathlete
    11:27 am February 16, 2017 Permalink

    Equally important, once K is out of USA basketball entirely Duke won’t have any recruiting edge over UK for the top players. Cal will basically cherry pick his teams

    • fauxbobknight
      1:42 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      You dont really believe that do you? Schools like Duke, UK, Kansas & UNC dont really have a significant recruiting edge on each other, they just have a recruiting edge on every other school in the country.

    • fauxbobknight
      1:48 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      & Duke was winning long before high school recruiting was a national (and in some cases world wide) practice.

  2. gokycats33
    11:32 am February 16, 2017 Permalink

    I have a feeling that with the way the NCAA hates UK and Coach Cal, that somehow UK will get in trouble for this. But yet for all these years that K has done this, it has been OK.

    • Mathlete
      11:43 am February 16, 2017 Permalink

      Sean Miller coached the last U-19 team, if they hit us they have to hit the desert Wildcats too

    • gokycats33
      11:53 am February 16, 2017 Permalink

      I realized that, but when has the NCAA made sense on any rulings they do. What might be OK for one team, would not be for another. Especially UK!

    • TBW3011
      12:02 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      We won’t get in trouble for this. It’s legal. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules are changed to keep a college coach from doing it.

    • fauxbobknight
      1:44 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      Why are you playing the victim card in a situation that doesn’t have a victim?

  3. symphonist41169
    12:40 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

    I’m not necessarily convinced most of this year’s freshmen class will be gone. Monk & Fox yes, but Bam’s draft stock has been falling for a while now and he could see himself fall to the 2nd round by the summer if he doesn’t have a monster tournament. At that point he’d be wise to come back for his sophomore year. Wenyan needs to bulk up more and hone his skills in the paint, I believe most GM’s will look at him as too much of a “project” and he’s headed for the 2nd round too. 2nd round = return to college, IMO. No way SKJ is drafted but he could be gone due to transferring.

    And this may be blasphemy to most on here, but I’m not yet convinced Briscoe is ready either, and think it’s 50-50 he’s back next year for a junior season. This year’s draft will be guard-heavy, and I don’t think he’s as far along as Willey Cauley-Stein was at the end of his sophomore year, and he returned.

    Just my opinions, feel free to call me a troll if you disagree. That’s usually the way it goes on here.

    • Mathlete
      12:55 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      Having a great year doesn’t necessarily matter in the NBA draft. Most GMs would draft Bam in the first round on potential alone (like what happened for Skal, for example). Briscoe probably goes if he can get into the second round this year though, he’ll be the 4th best guard on next year’s team so why not go get paid if he can?

      Totally agree that SKJ is probably going to transfer, it’s a loss but c’est la vie. He didn’t come here to be the fourth big guy off the bench and would start at a lot of schools.

    • A_Blue_Wildcat
      1:34 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      Briscoe is gone, everyone who is around him on campus says that he is absolutely gone, same mindset that the Harrison twins had after their sophmore year, doesn’t matter if no one will draft him he’s still gonna go.

    • a21CATSfan
      2:28 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

      I think you are completely correct. Boy would a lineup of Green, Briscoe, Diallo, Bam and Bamba be fun to watch! With Gilgeous-Alexander, Gabriel, Vanderbilt, Washington and Richards off the bench. Sorry Hump, Tai and SKJ.

  4. RexRox
    6:46 pm February 16, 2017 Permalink

    Not saying it’s going to happen (because it won’t) but I believe Fox could really benefit from coming back and developing an outside shot. With a dependable outside shot, combined with his athleticism, he could very possibly be an overall number one pick in 2018.