UK Recruiting

Calipari takes recruiting pitch to Mike & Mike Show

John Calipari answers questions during a news conference at the NCAA tournament earlier this year.
John Calipari answers questions during a news conference at the NCAA tournament earlier this year. The Associated Press

Moments after five-star recruit Edrice “Bam” Adebayo announced his commitment to Kentucky on the Mike & Mike Show Tuesday morning, the hosts welcomed John Calipari to the program.

The UK coach sounded like the Wildcat that ate the canary.

“Hey guys, how are you?” Calipari said. “That’s good news to wake you up in the morning.”

He was asked if college coaches sit around with the rest of us during these recruiting announcements, waiting unknowingly for the result, or if he knows what’s going to happen ahead of time.

Calipari responded by saying it differs from kid to kid, then launched into a nationally televised recruiting pitch that lasted the rest of the segment.

“This isn’t a business,” Calipari said, unprompted. “This isn’t about Kentucky’s basketball program. This is about individual players. ... This is about the brotherhood. This is about these individual kids. The best day for me is when I watch them in practice get better. And I look at them and know they’re going to change the life of their family.

“I don’t want anything to hold them back from chasing their dreams.”

As he often does on these shows, Calipari was off and running in what amounted to a five-minute commercial for UK basketball.

He talked about blue-chip recruits continuing to choose Kentucky because they see results on the court and reverberations in the community. He talked about his players sacrificing individual statistics for the greater good of the team.

And, to illustrate his point, he impressively listed 20 of his former players, by name and in a matter of seconds, that are now playing in the NBA: John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel, Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Enes Kanter, Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Archie Goodwin, James Young and former Memphis players Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.

“What I’m trying to do is stay focused on individual kids,” Calipari concluded. “Each one of them.”

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats