UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky's Calipari takes on Dominican coaching job

Kentucky coach coach John Calipari in the second game of the men's NCAA Final Four semifinal basketball game Saturday April 2, 2011 in Houston. Photo by David Perry | Staff
Kentucky coach coach John Calipari in the second game of the men's NCAA Final Four semifinal basketball game Saturday April 2, 2011 in Houston. Photo by David Perry | Staff

John Calipari proposed a global vision for University of Kentucky basketball when he was hired as coach in 2009.

He's run coaching clinics in China and taken his Wildcats teams to Canada, Mexico and Hawaii. Wednesday night, Calipari announced his reach will now stretch to the Dominican Republic.

"I have formally accepted the head coaching position with the Dominican Republic's national team," Calipari said in a message on his Web site, CoachCal.com.

Calipari announced recently that he was considering the move, which does not affect his in-season duties as Kentucky's coach.

Time demands will be lessened because the team will conduct some of its preparations in UK's Joe Craft Center, Calipari said in the posting.

It is not unusual for American coaches to work with foreign national teams. Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson led the national teams of Panama and later Mexico. Del Harris coached the Chinese national team in the 2004 Olympics.

Calipari's primary commitment to the Dominican Republic team will take place in August and September as he prepares the club for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

The team's roster hasn't been revealed, but NBA players with Dominican ancestry include former Louisville standout Francisco Garcia, ex-Florida star Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Trevor Ariza.

Calipari said the team will hold a mini-camp in Lexington in early August for emerging young Dominican players, most of whom are playing American college basketball, such as UK junior Eloy Vargas. The mini-camp will precede the team's official training camp, which will include the veterans.

"We really hope the Big Blue Nation will show the Dominican Republic the love and support you show our university," Calipari said. "There will be an opportunity for fans to see the team in a planned exhibition game at Rupp Arena vs. former Cats and also my former players."

He said the team will play a second exhibition in the Dominican Republic before playing in Brazil's Marchand Continental Cup Aug. 24-26 and then the qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics Aug. 30-Sept. 11 in Argentina.

Calipari said his reasons for taking the job include an effort to re-energize Dominican basketball with a "solid grassroots program, much like we've been helping with in China. Beyond that, this will be a great learning experience for me to be able to coach against some of the best minds in international basketball. ... I see no downside in this, especially knowing that I'm able to do a majority of the training here in Lexington."

The team will be operated by a Dominican sports management company called Southgate.

Knight to address media

UK will hold a press conference for freshman point guard Brandon Knight Friday at 10:15 a.m., the school announced Thursday. A topic wasn't specified, but Knight has put his name in the NBA Draft. The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from draft consideration and retain their eligibility is Sunday.

Calipari told ESPN's Andy Katz on Wednesday, "Brandon got the confirmation that he wanted" during a workout for NBA representatives.

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