UK Men's Basketball

Calipari, Wall receive awards, discuss future

INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Thursday he doesn't yet know how many players will be leaving his program, but that the worst-case scenario is that "it could be so many you're not gonna ever try to fill that many."

Calipari received the Adolph Rupp Cup for Coach of the Year and John Wall the Adolph Rupp Trophy for Player of the Year during a ceremony held by the Commonwealth Athletic Club at the Marriott Hotel on Thursday.

Afterward, Wall said he planned to make an official decision soon about whether to go pro after having just completed a standout freshman season. Calipari appeared to let the cat out of the bag during the ceremony when he told the gathering that Wall wanted to be the first player to "leave after one year and still get his degree."

But Wall denied that he has made a final decision or that he has signed with an agent.

"I had a great time at Kentucky, and I haven't made my decision yet," Wall said. "I'll make it in the next week or two."

Not that Calipari has any pretenses about what the future holds for his point guard.

"I have an opinion of what he should do," said the coach.

He also has his thoughts on the plans of freshmen DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton, who could join seniors Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs and Perry Stevenson, and possibly graduating junior Patrick Patterson, as departures from a Kentucky team that went 35-3, with a loss to West Virginia in the East Regional finals last weekend.

"During the season it's about our team," Calipari said. "When the season ends, the moment it ends, it's no longer about the team; it's about individual players. It's about them and their families. Now, you've worked hard for the team, you've worked hard for the state and for the program. Now it's your turn to make a decision for you and your family."

Calipari did say that he expected both Orton and Bledsoe to test the NBA Draft waters, but that he wants to make sure that both are "protected," in case they end up wanting to come back.

But with the possibility of a high number of departures, the coach also needs to protect himself and his program, with regard to next season.

"I think we're recruiting a good group of young people," Calipari said. "And I think that by the time we start next year, I think we'll have a team in order that's going to be another good team. Looks like it's going to be a young team again. But that's OK."

Calipari said he would not sign players just to sign players. Even though he had 13 scholarship players this season, Calipari said he would be comfortable with having 10 scholarship players and "one or two walk-ons."

The coach also denied rumors Darnell Dodson was no longer on the team.

He also said his understanding is that all of the four freshmen are in the proper academic standing to return next season, should they wish.

Not every recruit is going to be a one-and-done, Calipari said. In nine years at Memphis, the coach had four players who were drafted after just one season. He could have four more this year.

"It won't be like that (every year)," Calipari said. "Part of it was that the team was so good this year it elevated every player. If we were a bad team, they would have looked bad as individual players."

As the first Kentucky player to win the Rupp Award, John Wall looked the farthest thing from bad.

Said Calipari, "Not every kid is going to have an opportunity to leave after one year. There will be kids who say to me, 'Coach, can you do for me what you did for John Wall?' Are you as good as John Wall? ... Yes, I can. If not, then no, I cannot."

■ John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were among 10 finalists announced Thursday for the John R. Wooden Award as men's college basketball player of the year.

The other finalists are James Anderson of Oklahoma State, Da'Sean Butler of West Virginia, Sherron Collins of Kansas, Wesley Johnson of Syracuse, Scottie Reynolds of Villanova, Jon Scheyer of Duke, Evan Turner of Ohio State, and Greivis Vasquez of Maryland.

The winner will be announced April 9.