John Calipari’s calling card on the recruiting trail has been his ability to get players drafted into the NBA.
The problem with this recruiting pitch now is that he’s not the only one doing it. Yes, we can all agree he’s the best, but Coach K is not far behind and he’s getting closer. Despite the fact that Calipari consistently gets players to the League, the national media has turned their attention to Cal’s inability to land elite recruits, rather than focus on how he develops the Tyler Herros of the world into lottery picks.
However, Calipari still has one pitch he can make to high school recruits that no one else can match. That’s how former Kentucky players have fared once they get into the NBA. He’s said it before, but for him, it’s not just about helping players achieve their dream of playing professional basketball. His goal is to help his players get to their second or third contracts because that’s when players really start getting paid.
This calling card by Calipari was easily proved true when former Calipari-era players at Kentucky surpassed $1 billion in total earnings. Well, that number has increased and it is increasing quickly. Calipari’s pitch could not be any truer than it is now.
The last four former Cats to sign max extensions are John Wall, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jamal Murray. And the amount of money this quartet has netted with these extensions is absolutely absurd.
- John Wall – 4 years/$170 million
- Devin Booker – 5 years/$158 million
- Karl-Anthony Towns – 5 years/$158 million
- Jamal Murray – 5 years/$170 million
These four players have combined to net $656 million. Four players.
Please show me the former Duke or North Carolina players making this much money. I know it’s a different era of basketball, especially in terms of how much money owners just throw at players nowadays, but all four of these contracts are more than Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway made in his 14 (!) year NBA career.
So, Coach Cal might not be the only one who can claim that he gets players to the NBA, but he can offer possible generations of wealth that no one else even comes close to matching.