Calipari discusses rumors, draft decisions and Kentucky's future

'Part of it is to screw up your recruiting,' coach says

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2011 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari made light of speculation about the New York Knicks' possible interest in him as a coaching candidate. He linked such speculation to attempts by rivals to thwart his recruiting efforts.

Calipari spoke to a select group of media types on Wednesday. According to various reports, the UK coach distanced himself from such speculation, which has come in one form or another almost yearly in his coaching career.

"They can't say I'm going to take another college job, which my whole career they've been saying," Calipari said. "I was involved with any job that was open, that would be out there. Now it's only pro jobs. Part of it is to screw up your recruiting. I laughed when the newest rumors came out because I said, 'You're not screwing up our recruiting because we already have these kids signed.' Those rumors are going to be out there. I've got a great job, one of the best in our sport. I can't stop the rumors."

On other topics, Calipari said:

■ The NBA labor situation complicates the decisions several UK players must make about whether to enter this year's NBA Draft or return to college next season.

When asked whether UK players Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight would turn pro this spring, Calipari said, "We're not there yet to be able to tell you (if they're staying or going), but I think putting their names in is a no-brainer, if that's what they choose to do. The lockout really kind of screws everything up because a lot of kids are pulling their names because what if the lockout goes the whole year? What kind of mistake did you make?"

■ The various deadlines set by the NCAA and NBA further confuse the UK-or-NBA decisions.

"The problem is, the NCAA didn't work with the NBA to work on the drop-dead date," he said. "The NBA date (to declare for the draft) is the 24th, and the list (of players who declared) doesn't come out until the 28th or 29th so the NBA can't work out those kids or talk to them until the list comes out. The NCAA says you have until May 8th (to withdraw from the draft), but you can't miss class. We're trying to do some stuff to get them more information."

■ DeAndre Liggins should put his name in this year's NBA Draft.

"They're going to do a combine in New Jersey, and I don't think Terrence and Brandon should go ..." he said. "But DeAndre maybe goes up there and goes crazy and plays his way in. I would tell you that we know he's not on any lists or boards right now. ... The only thing they're going to say he needs to improve is his skill level, but there won't be any, 'This guy isn't tough enough or doesn't have what it takes.' If someone says they're going to take him in the first round, I might tell him to stay in."

■ Doron Lamb must get stronger and tougher.

"He and I talked that if he gains 15 pounds of muscle weight, in my opinion, he'll be a lottery pick a year from now," the UK coach said. "His feel for the game is as good as any out there. He finally took on a defensive presence (late in the year) and, as he gets physically stronger and tougher and rougher, you're not going to take away his feel for the game or his ability to make shots. So I think what happens is, him with 15 more pounds, how are you going to guard him?"

■ He's not concerned about how UK's roster might look next season.

"I don't ever worry about that, and it really affected us this year," he said. "In other years, I'd tell you the same thing; that's why I say I'll never try and talk a kid into staying. It's their choice. I may not agree, but you know what, it's not my decision. Whatever decision you make, there is only one person that has to live with it. You have to live with it."

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