Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has to 'convince' Calipari he should stay

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 27, 2012 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) smiled as a UK run forced a Florida time out as #1 Kentucky defeated #7 Florida 78-58 on Tuesday February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will have to make a persuasive case before Kentucky Coach John Calipari will accept the notion of his returning to college next season.

"He has to come up with reasons why he's coming back to convince me," Calipari said Monday on a Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference. "Here's why: What if he gets hurt, and I'm out there convincing him to come back?"

Calipari also noted the possibility of a player returning to college and then seeing his draft stock fall.

"It's hard to live with yourself," Calipari said, "unless you're trying to win five more games or 'How many games can I win before I retire?' "

Such was not the case at Kentucky, said Calipari, who added, "This is about these young people."

Kidd-Gilchrist, who was named the Southeastern Conference's freshman of the week on Monday, caused a kerfuffle on the Internet over the weekend when he intimated that he would not enter his name in the 2012 NBA Draft. He said he wanted to get his degree, an idea Calipari supported.

But the UK coach also said it was too early for any player to make a decision on his basketball future.

"You can't make a decision until the year's out and see what all the information is," he said.

Calipari also said he would support a Kidd-Gilchrist decision to enter this year's NBA Draft or return to college for his sophomore season.

"Obviously, if he wants to stay, I'll be very happy," Calipari said. "In the same sense, it's too early to tell what anyone's going to do right now."

Players typically express the wish they'd stayed at UK longer, he said, before adding that players should also be mindful of leaving college to seize opportunities when they arise, as did businessmen Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Two years ago, Calipari famously said that he'd wrestle John Wall if the player spoke of returning to UK.

When asked whether he'd wrestle Kidd-Gilchrist should the player want to play another season for Kentucky, Calipari said, "If Michael is a one-pick in the draft, yes, I'd wrestle him to the floor and say, 'What are you thinking?' "

In the latest edition of mock drafts, DraftExpress.com has Kidd-Gilchrist taken with the third pick, Chad Ford of ESPN the fourth pick and NBADraft.net the ninth pick.

"Right now, I want him worried about our team," Calipari said. "I want him to be worried about being the best college player, and (the players) the best team they can be. At the end of the year, we'll worry about all that.

"Right now, he's not worried about it."

Donovan on Davis

Florida Coach Billy Donovan lauded the shot-blocking prowess of UK freshman Anthony Davis, who was named the Southeastern Conference's player of the week Monday.

"He's definitely one of the best of all time," Donovan said.

After noting that he was not old enough to remember Hall of Fame centers such as Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, Donovan said of Davis, "Certainly, here in recent times, the last 20, 25 years, he's as good as anybody out there."

With 138 blocks, Davis already has broken the SEC record for rejections by a freshman. He needs 33 more blocks to set a league record for any player.

Donovan noted how Davis does not have imposing height and/or bulk.

"But, obviously, he's a quick jumper," the Florida coach said. "He's got long arms. ... He has an ability to become a lot longer than he appears, and very quickly. And it's different from most guys."

Davis isn't a 7-footer or a blot-out-the-sun presence like Shaquille O'Neal, Donovan said.

"So he can be a little unassuming physically," Donovan said. "But I think he's a tough kid."

Moral victory?

Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings noted how his team is in a "pretty good state of mind" after playing Kentucky competitively over 80 minutes in the last two weeks. But he disagreed when a reporter suggested his team might get a boost from playing UK down to the final minute or so in Rupp Arena on Saturday.

UK, which hasn't lost in Rupp Arena in three years, extended the nation's longest active home winning streak to 51 games.

"I don't know that we got any boost from that," Stallings said. "We expected to play them well. Quite honestly, we expected to play them better than we did."

The Commodores expected to defend Kentucky better, he said. UK made 57.1 percent of its shots, which equalled its third-best accuracy of the season.

Stallings took a bottom-line approach to his team's 83-74 loss when he said, "I don't think losing gives you a boost."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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