Skip to content

John Calipari’s return to Kentucky ‘solely’ due to loyalty to his players

Jul 29, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

source: Getty Images

Getty Images

One of this offseason’s most intriguing story lines was that of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

After leading a team that was completely written off in early March all the way to the national title game, he got great news when four of the six guys that were expected to head to the NBA made the decision to return to school for at least one more season.

The amount of talent on his roster immediately propelled his team to the top of any preseason top 25 poll worth considering.

And all this was happening while NBA teams were calling him and inquiring about whether or not he would like to coach their team. The most notable offer he received? From Cleveland, where he would have the chance to coach LeBron, Kyrie Irving and either Andrew Wiggins or Kevin Love, depending on who ends up getting traded.

Talk about a win-win situation.

On Monday, Mike DeCourcey of The Sporting News traveled down to Lexington and had a chance to chat up Coach Cal, who opened up about why he made the decision to turn down the NBA and return to school as well:

Current NCAA rules force college players to make their final decision about the draft in April. Calipari’s opportunities arrived subsequent to that date.

“Four kids said they need us and me to help them get more prepared for the rest of their lives,” Calipari said Monday. “If I came back after the date and left … tough move. If it was your son, how would you feel? ‘That rat, we could have left, why didn’t he tell us?’ “

Calipari said that was the reason he declined the NBA jobs. “Solely,” as he put it.

Cal is a master when it comes to spin, so I understand why you would be skeptical, but I think this is something that is rooted in truth. This is a guy that has been reported to be chasing NBA jobs in just about every offseason since he landed at Kentucky that turned down a massive offer from a team that had, at the time, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft and a real shot to bring back the best basketball player in the world.

Something kept him there.

“Around Calipari, there is a strong belief that he would’ve landed in Cleveland had those key players decided to turn professional this year,” Yahoo Sports reported back in June when they broke the news that he turned down a 10-year, $80-million offer from Cleveland.

Latest Posts
  1. 6-foot-4 shooting guard becomes South Carolina’s fourth 2015 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    With Ty Johnson being the lone player out of eligibility, South Carolina may have some other moves in minds when it comes to getting down to the 13 scholarship limit.

  2. Arizona sophomore forward denies reports that he’s turning pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is projected to be a first round pick, but he stated that he still needs to talk with his mother and Arizona head coach Sean Miller before making a decision.

  3. Oklahoma sophomore guard Frank Booker to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Booker played just 14.3 minutes per game this season, with the Sooners relying on the triumvirate of Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard on the perimeter.

  4. Rhode Island, head coach Dan Hurley agree to contract restructuring, extension

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hurley led the Rams to a 23-10 record this season, and with the amount of talent they’ll return Rhody should be an NCAA tournament team and a contender in the A-10.

  5. Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey announces intentions to turn pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Harvey averaged 23.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Big Sky champion Eagles.

  6. Eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans give a recruiting update

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas) Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas)

    With eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans playing in Wednesday night’s game, there are still plenty of decisions to be made going forward.

  7. Maryland point guard Melo Trimble to return for sophomore season

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Trimble’s decision to return is a big boost, and it ensures that Maryland will be a Big Ten contender next season.

  8. Liberty re-hires former head coach Ritchie McKay

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Semifinal Round Game Virginia Cavaliers vs Pittsburgh Panthers Getty Images

    Liberty re-hired former head coach Ritchie McKay after McKay spent a stint at Virginia as associate head coach.

  9. How Duke fixed its defense in the NCAA tournament

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    What kinds of changes has Duke made to improve defensively during a strong NCAA tournament run?

  10. Kansas loses freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. to 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kelly Oubre Jr. will leave Kansas for the NBA Draft.

  11. Nebraska guard Tarin Smith to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska is losing another player from the roster.

  12. Ohio State lands a top 50 Class of 2016 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Harrison Heath, Derek Funderburk AP

    Ohio State landed an impact forward in the 2016 class on Wednesday.

  13. Wisconsin stops selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirt in campus bookstore over potential NCAA violation

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:10 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Wisconsin stopped selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirts at a campus bookstore.

  14. Kevin Ollie, UConn coaching staff won’t attend Final Four in Indianapolis over state travel ban

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Kevin Ollie and UConn will stay away from the Final Four in Indianapolis as the state of Connecticut has banned state-funded travel to the state.

  15. San Diego hires New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith as new head coach

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Lamont Smith, right, is San Diego's new head coach (Getty Images) Getty Images

    San Diego turned to a former player to lead the basketball program.

  16. Washington State losing three players to transfer

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Jackie Davis, Brett Boese, Lucas O'Brien AP

    Head coach Ernie Kent is losing three first-year players after his first season at the helm.

  17. Travis Ford receives strong endorsement from Oklahoma State athletic director, booster

    Mar 31, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    Travis Ford AP

    It appears Travis Ford will stay at Oklahoma State for now.

  18. Report: Murray State guard Cameron Payne heavily considering NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    Cameron Payne, Reece Chamberlain AP

    Could Murray State guard Cameron Payne enter the NBA Draft?