Skip to content

Regardless of LeBron’s decision, John Calipari was returning to Kentucky

Aug 17, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

AP Photo AP

In the immediate aftermath of Kentucky’s loss to UConn in the national title game, there were some questions asked with regard to the future of the program. Of course there was the issue of figuring out which players would enter the NBA Draft (Julius Randle and James Young) and who would return to Lexington for another season (everyone else with eligibility remaining). But there was also the matter of determining whether or not head coach John Calipari would entertain thoughts of moving on as well.

One “theory” floating around was that Calipari, who has led Kentucky to one national title and three Final Four appearances during his tenure, would coach a Cleveland Cavaliers team that would hopefully feature LeBron James. James eventually made the decision to return to Cleveland, but in a story written by Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal none of that mattered to Calipari.

Even if he’d known that James would be returning to Cleveland, Calipari says he still would have signed the seven-year contract extension he agreed to back in June because of his commitment to the players who decided to return to school.

“They came back because it was good for them and their careers and they knew they needed more developing and coaching. That was by me. That’s what they wanted,” Calipari told the paper in an interview Sunday morning in the Bahamas. “So that made it a tough deal to say, ‘I’m just going to leave these guys here.’ With who? It may be somebody I don’t know that wouldn’t do the things for them that they needed to do.

“Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special. It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. That’s what I’m doing. At the end of the day, that was what (kept him at UK). It wasn’t money.”

Will the NBA question linger every offseason for Calipari? Who knows, and that could depend upon the possibility of landing with a franchise that has an elite player on board. As noted, there was no way for anyone to know in the months that led up to Calipari signing his extension that LeBron would return to his home state. And coaching a loaded team considered by many to be the early favorite to win the national title isn’t a bad deal either.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Coppin State graduate transfer Sterling Smith will visit four programs

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Sterling Brown, Rashad Smith AP

    Coppin State junior guard Sterling Smith is looking like a prime graduate transfer.

  2. Five-star Kentucky commit believes the NCAA will clear him to play

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Kentucky five-star big man Skal Labissiere believes that the NCAA will allow him to play this season.

  3. West defeats East 118-116 in the Jordan Brand Classic

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Cheick Diallo won named MVP for both the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.

  4. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg undergoes successful open heart surgery

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hoiberg just completed his fifth season at Iowa State.

  5. Gonzaga big man to return for senior season

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Domantas Sabonis previously announced he would return.

  6. Top plays from the Jordan Brand Classic practice

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    diallo

    The Jordan Brand Classic is Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

  7. Duke among list of candidates for graduate transfer guard

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The former Villanova guard cut his list to eight.

  8. Mountain West gives New Mexico guard Cullen Neal medical hardship year

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Thanks to this ruling Neal will have three years of eligibility remaining.

  9. 2016 shooting guard Mustapha Heron de-commits from Pittsburgh

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Heron, who committed to Pitt back in January 2014, says he will continue to consider Jamie Dixon’s program.

  10. Four-star guard becomes Avery Johnson’s first commitment as Alabama head coach

    Apr 17, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Avery Johnson Avery Johnson

    Dazon Ingram joins Brandon Austin and Donta Hall, both of whom remained committed following the firing of Anthony Grant, in Alabama’s 2015 class.

  11. Former Florida guard discusses Billy Donovan’s potential as an NBA head coach on ‘Dan Patrick Show’ (VIDEO)

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Beal spoke highly of his college coach, including how a possible adjustment would go should Donovan decide to try his hand at the NBA game.

  12. Kansas State announces dismissal of forward Malek Harris from program

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Harris is the fifth departure from the Kansas State program since the end of the season.

  13. Albany’s Peter Hooley to give commencement speech at school’s graduation in May

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hooley’s game-winning shot in the America East title game came less than two months after his mother passed from a lengthy bout with colon cancer.

  14. Alabama forward Shannon Hale to return after briefly considering transfer

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:04 AM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hale is Alabama’s leading returning scorer, as he averaged 8.2 points per game last season.

  15. Five-star 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman commits to UNLV

    Apr 16, 2015, 11:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Landing Zimmerman is a big deal for Dave Rice, who could use the boost after a disappointing 2014-15.

  16. 6-foot-10 big man becomes Michigan’s second 2016 commitment

    Apr 16, 2015, 10:56 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Michigan won’t lack for big men when Davis arrives on campus in 2016, but that will give him time to develop as a freshman.

  17. Michigan State forward undergoes arthroscopic procedure on left knee

    Apr 16, 2015, 8:02 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Costello dealt with the knee issue down the stretch, but the procedure isn’t expected to keep him out of offseason workouts for too long.

  18. Mountain West announces new in-season tournament set to begin November 2017 in Cayman Islands

    Apr 16, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    MWClogo1

    The Mountain West is guaranteed one of the eight slots in the field.