Fresh from a highly successful 10 years as Kentucky coach and newly armed with a so-called lifetime contract, John Calipari did not speak of a steady-as-she-goes plan for the future. Instead, he saw new challenges looming and his UK program needing to be ready to adapt.
“We’re on our second tour of duty,” he said this month. “Those 10 years are done. And you can almost see I’m feeling kind of rejuvenated. Here we go. Let’s go on another 10-year run. Let’s see how we can do. Let’s see if we can do better. Let’s see if we can continue to change.”
The big change possible in the next few years is the expectation that players will be again allowed to go directly from high school to the NBA. And, of course, these players have been the foundation of Kentucky basketball under Calipari’s leadership.
Of the brave new world ahead, Calipari said, “How do we stay on top?”
Calipari said he guessed that only five or six players a year will be capable of going from high school directly to NBA contracts. His concern is that other players will see themselves following that path. These players will see high school classwork as unimportant. When the NBA door closes, they will feel abandoned.