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Calipari To Coach Kentucky in ’09-10???

March 30, 2009

It’s kind of a big news day for college basketball, but nothing is bigger than John Calipari possibly taking the head coaching position at the University of Kentucky. This is a somewhat shocking development in my opinion. My first instinct was that there is no way he’d even consider taking the job, but I was playing poker when I heard the news and the chatter at the table was that he’d be an idiot not to take it. Plus, ESPN was running a blurb saying that Calipari met with Memphis officials and players and everybody left the meeting with the feeling that Calipari was going to take the Kentucky job. We all know that Kentucky is one of the most storied programs in college basketball history and Calipari is certainly going to make more money coaching an SEC team.

Here’s what I don’t understand though:

Memphis has a better basketball program than Kentucky: Yeah, not historically, but over the past 3-4 years Memphis has developed into a powerhouse. Kentucky was a one and done team in 2008 and broke a string of 17 straight NCAA tournament appearances this year when they were relegated to the NIT. Meanwhile, Memphis has posted three straight undefeated seasons in Conference USA and have made it to the Sweet 16, Championship Game, and two Elite 8s over the past four seasons.

Memphis might have the best recruiting class of all-time for the 2009-2010 season: Calipari has already inked two of the top three recruits in DeMarcus Cousins and Xavier Henry. John Wall, the #1 high school player in the nation (according to www.rivals.com, also has shown a strong interest in going to Memphis. So Memphis has already signed two players that are ranked higher in this year’s incoming freshman class than Tyreke Evans was in last year’s (arguably weaker) incoming class… with the potential of landing the top high school player in the nation on top of that. It’s scary to think of what those three players could accomplish together. On top of that, Memphis has signed three other four-star recruits. Despite being young, that core of players would probably make Memphis the favorites for a national championship next year… and Tyreke Evans hasn’t even declared for the draft yet. Yikes.

Of course, all of this is subject to change if Calipari decides to jump ship. If that happens, surely John Wall will play elsewhere. I’m not sure what the ruling on backing out of a Letter Of Intent is, but who knows how Cousins and Henry will react when the coach that recruited them is no longer a part of the picture. Personally, despite the financial security and exposure that an SEC head coaching job will bring, I think Calipari would be wise to stay in Memphis. He has the potential to build a dynasty type of program there and I’d hate to see him walk away from it.

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