LOUISVILLE — Kentucky Coach John Calipari sounded like a proud papa on Friday when discussing his five former players who were picked in the first round of the NBA Draft the previous night.
And while the exodus means that UK must adjust to a lot of new players next season, Calipari is hoping that the Cats continue to be a big player on NBA Draft night.
"I hope we do it again," Calipari said. "My dream now would to be to have the No. 1 overall pick and six first-round draft picks. I want my sixth man to get drafted in the first round."
John Wall was the No. 1 draft pick. DeMarcus Cousins checked in at No. 5, Patrick Patterson at No. 14, Eric Bledsoe No. 18 and Daniel Orton at 29th.
Calipari raised eyebrows after the draft when he called it the biggest night in UK basketball history. He elaborated on those comments on Friday and pointed to the fact that it was the first time in Wildcats history that a player had gone No. 1 overall and the first time in NBA history that five players from one school went in the first round. But Calipari didn't back down from his earlier statement and even compared having a huge draft night to winning a national title.
"I'm not saying that winning national titles is not important; it is," he said. "But if you told me we'd win a national title and no one gets drafted, or you go 0-for-20 against West Virginia and five guys get drafted, you tell me what you'd want. I know that makes the old guard mad that I'd even say that but, if it's really about these kids, this would be a great day."
Calipari said he was especially happy for Bledsoe, who was picked 18th by Oklahoma City before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cousins' attitude and maturity were hot topics in the days leading up to the draft, but Calipari said Cousins will be playing for a coach in Sacramento, Paul Westphal, who'll be able to handle him.
"All this kid needs to know is, you care about him and he's not (merely) an asset," Calipari said. "You teach him, and you have to be strong enough and not be afraid to say no. Paul will do it a way that won't be personal."
Dodson's status uncertain
Calipari said the future of swingman Darnell Dodson is still up in the air. Dodson is enrolled in summer school but hasn't cemented his spot on the team for next season.
"He's got work to do," Calipari said.
Not ruling out a transfer
Several media outlets have reported that power forward Royce White, who sat out last season at Minnesota, is interested in transferring to UK.
If Dodson is on the team, UK would have two scholarships available for next season. Calipari is not allowed to mention possible transfers by name but said there are players interested in joining the program.
"If there's something out there and there's a player who'd be good for us, we'd consider it," he said. "But right now, we're kind of marching along in the summer and seeing how things play out. There's some people that have contacted us, but you have to tell all these kids, 'If you're coming here because you think I can get you in the league in one year, you're coming to the wrong place.' "
Without Cousins, Patterson and Orton, Calipari said, he'll probably rely more on dribble-drive and pick-and-roll offenses in 2010-11. Calipari said the team's trip to Canada will provide him with an opportunity to evaluate his personnel.
"It'll be a great time to figure out Brandon (Knight)," he said. "He's different from John, who was different from Tyreke (Evans), who was different from Derrick (Rose)."