John Calipari appeared on ESPNU’s Signing Day Special on Wednesday night for a short Q and A. Below is a transcript of that.
Keep in mind that Coach Cal could not then and cannot discuss any prospective student-athletes until they have signed and faxed in a national letter of intent.
Question: How has winning a national championship changed things?
Calipari: It hasn’t changed anything for me personally, and I don’t think (it has) in the recruiting process. I’ll tell you one thing it may have done: I come back and say this program is not for everybody now. It’s not like every kid wants to walk into this and understand you’re someone’s Super Bowl. We just played an NCAA Tournament (where) every team gave us their best shot. We go through a league (where) every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl. Following up what that group of freshmen just did, that’s not for everybody now. But the result, and I’m hoping this year, that we have six guys picked in the first round. But, it’s not an easy road. It’s really, really difficult.”
Question: What’s the best way to explain the way you feel on national signing day when most of these young men are announcing their college decisions?
Calipari: I’m a little nervous because I really want to coach guys, and there are guys that you look at and say, ‘Man, I would really enjoy it.’ But in the end, whatever they choose I live with. I don’t take the thing personal. I never have. And the other side of it is, by not picking your school, sometimes there’s a reason they didn’t want it. To come with us, you’ve got to be all in. You’ve got to be all in. And if you’re not, you’re better off going somewhere else. We’ve got Kyle Wiltjer coming back, we’ve got Ryan Harrow, who sat out last year, coming back, and we’ve got some other guys in the program. Obviously, Archie (Goodwin), Willie (Cauley) and Alex (Poythress) are terrific players. We’ve got the makings of another really good team. If we sign a couple more we’re going to be on our way. Even if we only get one or none, we’re still good and we’ll deal with it. We don’t know if all five underclassmen are going to leave, but if you’re a betting man, you’re probably saying, if it looks like they’re all have an opportunity to be first-round picks, they probably will. It’s like Darius Miller. Here’s a young man that stayed years. You don’t have to come with us and leave after a year. You can be with us for four like Darius and do your thing. You can be with us three or two, but it’s just happened in the last few years that we had five in the first round last year two years ago, four players drafted last year, and like you’ve heard me say a few times, I would love it if we could ever get six drafted in that first round this coming year.”
Question: We know that have you guys like Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin. What do these two guys in particular do for Kentucky basketball as you see it?
Calipari: And you’ve also got Willie Cauley who’s a 7-footer who can run like crazy and has only touched how good he’s going to be. With Alex, I don’t even know if Alex knows how good he’s going to be. Right now, there have been times where I’ve seen Alex play, and when he’s challenged, he just takes it to another level. You’re talking about great size and athleticism, a skill level. Both guys were well coached in high school. Archie, here’s a guy that wanted to play for me when he was in ninth grade, and now he’s all in. You watch him, Archie is going to be one of those players – just like Alex – who everyone is talking about just like the young kids we had this year.”