UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky’s Brad Calipari places name in NCAA Transfer Portal. What happens next?

Brad Calipari says competing with NBA-level talent demands the best he has to give

Brad Calipari says he would like to follow his father into coaching someday but, for now, he's giving his all to playing the game. He talks about how he's benefited from his Kentucky experience.
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Brad Calipari says he would like to follow his father into coaching someday but, for now, he's giving his all to playing the game. He talks about how he's benefited from his Kentucky experience.

Brad Calipari, who has stood out as the son of a Kentucky coach and a fan favorite, has placed his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal..

UK said that he had not yet decided whether to transfer or remain on the Kentucky team.

Calipari sat out this past season as a redshirt. He would have two seasons of college eligibility remaining.

“Brad and I had talked earlier about exploring his options — not a decision to leave but about keeping his options open to play more,” John Calipari said on his Twitter account Thursday night. “We talked about the transfer portal and putting his name out there. He didn’t think — nor did I — that putting his name out there would go crazy. We honestly didn’t think anyone would notice. But at the end of the day, I want my son to be happy.

“It’s hard to get minutes at Kentucky — EVEN IF YOU’RE MY SON. Brad is going to take his time with his decision and weigh all options. No matter what he does, he has my full support.”

Two earlier sons who played for the UK coach, Sean Sutton and Saul Smith, became targets of fan disgruntlement. Sutton started all 31 games of his sophomore season, and then transferred after UK fired his father, Eddie Sutton. Smith started 70 games, averaging 21.7 minutes and 5.1 points in his four seasons.

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Brad Calipari put up a shot during Kentucky’s exhibition game against Transylvania last season. Mark Mahan

By contrast, Calipari did not start a game in his two seasons on the active roster. He averaged 2.7 minutes in his 27 game appearances.

His father often used his son as a comic foil. This seemed to take the pressure off and breathed life into a comment Al McGuire made about how a father-son combination can work. The son, McGuire said, must either be the star of the team or a player at the end of the bench.

The younger Calipari became a fan favorite. When he touched the ball, fans urged him to shoot. He made only three of 20 three-point shots, but no doubt each thrilled a sizable number of UK fans.

“If he decides to leave, I know our fans will continue to root for him,” John Calipari added on Twitter. “And if he decides to come back, I’ll soak in every moment to coach my son. I love all my players — I just love Brad a little more.”

Brad Calipari began his high school career at Lexington Christian Academy. As a high school senior, he played for the MacDuffie School, which is in Franklin Lakes, N.J. He averaged 15.3 points and 3.6 assists as a senior.

In a story that appeared in The Players’ Tribune dated July 15, 2016, Calipari spoke glowingly of playing for UK.

“If you’re going to ball, it’s gotta be in Lexington,” he wrote.

He acknowledged it sounded “crazy” to transfer for his high school senior season.

In explaining the transfer, he wrote that he “realized how badly I wanted to play.”

Calipari acknowledged the ups and downs involved in being the son of the Kentucky coach.

“People will just talk to you, slamming Coach Cal, unaware ‘Coach’ was actually ‘Dad,’” he wrote. “ . . . The first couple times that it happened, I didn’t know how to handle it. . . . But it is what it is. As I’ve matured, I understand that people are going to either hate him or love him. So I can’t really take it personally.”

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UK Coach John Calipari wanted his son, Brad, to work on point guard skills. The switch from shooting guard to point guard on a tour of Europe improved Brad’s play. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

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