The common denominator in two coaching trees has led a Pittsburgh-area high school basketball star to commit to the University of Kentucky for next season.
Jonny David — a 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard — averaged 18.5 points a game for Mount Lebanon (Pa.) this past season, earning all-state honors and a few looks from Ivy League and Patriot League programs.
Instead of entertaining possible Division I scholarship offers, David decided he'd rather walk on for the Wildcats.
Give the assist to former UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua.
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David's path to Lexington began 30 years ago, when a 26-year-old John Calipari was hired as an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. One of the seniors on the Panthers' squad that season was Jonny's father, Joe David, who was only four years younger than Calipari and became friends with the assistant off the court.
On the court, David was impressed by the young coach's determination.
He recalled one conversation in the Pitt fieldhouse toward the end of that season — David thought Calipari was ready for a head coaching job; Calipari was biding his time.
"I knew he was going to be a great coach," David said. "The way he approached the game and the way he approached the scouting — I thought he brought a different edge to it. He just said he was waiting for the right moment. He was waiting for the right program and the right situation. But I knew he was going to be something special, because he's just that type of guy."
David graduated that year, went on to get advanced degrees in physical therapy and started his own practice in 1994. Calipari left Pitt in 1988 to become the head coach at Massachusetts, and the two lost touch for years.
Antigua rekindled the relationship.
Now the head coach at South Florida, Antigua played at Pitt a few years after David, and they got to know each other through that connection. In 2002, David was the head coach at Mount Lebanon High School in suburban Pittsburgh, and the affable Antigua was working in sales.
David offered Antigua a position as an assistant on his coaching staff.
"I never thought he could be the true essence of Orlando Antigua unless he was on the basketball court," David said. "Just the presence that he has, and the communication ability and enthusiasm that he has."
Antigua spent a season with David before joining Jamie Dixon's staff at Pitt in 2003, then moved on to Memphis as an assistant coach under Calipari in 2008, following him to UK the next year.
David and Antigua stayed in touch through the years, and the college assistant tried to get his former boss to come down to Memphis for a visit during his first season there. David never made that trip, and Antigua persisted when he got to Lexington.
One day, David hopped in the car and made the drive to Kentucky.
He's been back every year since to spend a couple of days watching Calipari run his practices. Jonny has accompanied him on some of those trips.
"It's just an awesome place," Joe said. "I get a kick out of the intensity and how much they love the university and love Kentucky basketball."
The last time he was in town, Calipari asked about Jonny. The UK coach is known to pop up at high school events in his native Pittsburgh, and he was aware that his former college player had a pretty good player of his own in the family.
Jonny had expressed interest in walking on at a bigger program, and Calipari said that he would be losing three walk-ons — seniors Tod Lanter, Brian Long and Sam Malone — to graduation.
Calipari told the Davids to consider it over the next few months and let him know at the end of the season if Jonny would be interested in coming to Kentucky.
Other Division I coaches made phone calls and sent recruiting letters to Jonny.
Joe David asked his son the same question whenever a new school would inquire: "If they offered you a scholarship, would you go there or walk on at Kentucky?
"The answer was always, 'I want to go to Kentucky.'"
Last month, Jonny sent Calipari a text message saying he'd like to be a Wildcat.
"Welcome to the family," the UK coach responded.
When asked why he'd take a walk-on spot — and the possibility of little playing time — over a scholarship offer and a good chance to get on the court, Jonny made the decision sound like a no-brainer.
"It kind of speaks for itself," he said. "It's Kentucky basketball. It's the best in the country. There's really nothing that can compare to it."
The Davids have no illusions about Jonny's future at UK.
They don't expect him to be the next John Wall when he gets to Lexington, but both father and son say he'll do what is asked to try and carve out a role down the road.
"He's someone that I think can aspire to be a Jarrod Polson-type player for Coach Cal," said Joe David. "He's a team guy. He's willing to work hard and do whatever he needs to do to help the team out.
"But he also understands where he stands right now. Nothing will be given to him, it's all going to be earned, and the first thing he's going to try to earn is being able to get into the practices. Breaking into the top 10 where he can fulfill a role for practice."
Jonny says his strength is his three-point shooting, though he was a pass-first player before his high school team needed him to step up as a scorer, and he's more than willing to return to that role once he finds himself in the company of players like Alex Poythress, Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe next season.
He watched every UK game he could this past season and has been paying close attention to the recruits that the Wildcats are bringing in. "I'm excited," he said. "All of these guys are fantastic players."
Joe David called Jonny the "prototypical coach's son," and four years under the tutelage of a Hall of Famer like Calipari would likely look good on a résumé should he decide to follow his father into the coaching world.
Instead, Jonny said his plan is to follow his father into a career in physical therapy, and that will be the focus of his studies at UK.
On the court, he just wants to do whatever he can. And hopefully make a contribution as a Cat.
"I've been around Kentucky and I've seen their guys," he said. "I've seen what they go through. I could go other places, but I don't think I could be as good as if I'm at Kentucky playing against these guys — playing against the best in the country.
"And the experiences — like being with a team that goes undefeated until the Final Four — there's no other college out there that can give someone that experience."
Though Joe David lost touch with Calipari, he said he "never stopped rooting for him, never stopped following him" throughout his basketball career.
David chuckled at some memories of his former coach, and he spoke with reverence about what his old friend had accomplished, though the success didn't surprise him.
That one season at Pitt left a lasting impression, and David is glad his son will get the experience, too.
"I've told him this when we've talked — 'I'm not trying to blow smoke, but you're the best coach I've ever had. And I had you for one year.'
"So, why wouldn't I put my son in the hands of someone that I respect as much as him?"