By: John Calipari
The legendary — and legendarily candid — University of Kentucky basketball coach opens up as he never has before about what separates good teams and coaches from bad ones and about the things that are seriously awry in today’s college game.
In Players First, John Calipari relates for the first time anywhere his experiences over his first four years coaching the Kentucky Wildcats, college basketball’s most fabled program, from the doldrums to a national championship, drawing lessons about leadership, character, and the path to personal and collective victory.
At its core, Calipari’s coaching philosophy centers on keeping his focus on the players — what they need to get the best out of themselves and one another. He is beloved by his players for being utterly honest with them, not by making promises, but by making commitments that he always keeps. He knows that in this age, they come to Kentucky to prepare for the NBA; every year he gets players who in a previous era would have gone directly into the pros from high school but now have to play college basketball for one year. Calipari has fought against this system, but he has to play within it, and so he does, better than anyone.
The result is an extraordinary leadership challenge: every year Coach Cal gets a handful of eighteen-year-old kids who have been in a bubble for the previous four years at least, filled with hype about their own greatness, and most come to Kentucky feeling sure that they will play for their coach only for seven months before they go on to greater glory. Every year, he has to reinvent his team. After his 2012 NCAA championship, it was particularly dramatic; he lost his first six players in the NBA Draft, meaning that someone who couldn’t even start for Kentucky was a draft pick.
The overall record at Kentucky, and for his career, puts Calipari in the pantheon of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. Bold, funny, and truthful, like Coach Calipari himself, Players First is truly the first deep reckoning with the meaning of his experiences and the gifts of insight they offer.
By: John Calipari
If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that nobody goes through life unscathed—no matter how rich, how smart, how talented, or how fortunate they may be. White collar, blue collar, or no collar, there is an undeniable commonality to the raw emotion that strikes people when they are knocked down.
University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has experienced his share of public setbacks, but he has learned that bad situations are permanent only if you allow them to be. What Coach Cal—as players, peers, and his legion of fans that make up the Big Blue Nation call him—learned from his experiences was the importance of having the right attitude when dealing with life’s major impediments. On the court and off, he emphasizes to his players that a big part of success is being able to handle obstacles. Now he is offering you the chance to learn the same strategies that he teaches the young men who play for him. By becoming an active participant in your own resurrection—through practice exercises and tips from Coach Cal and his deep bench of highly successful people—you too will gain the tools and insight to understand that it’s never a matter of how far you have fallen, but instead it’s about how high you bounce back.
By: John Calipari
Having worked as an assistant at Kansas and Pitt, Calipari took over the basketball program at the University of Massachusetts in 1988, after the school had recorded 10 straight losing seasons. Adopting the motto that he and coauthor Weiss (Full Court Pressure) also use for this conventional autobiography, Calipari proved himself a fine motivator of young players and an astute manipulator of television to publicize UMass’s increasingly successful organization.
Each year, his teams improved on the record of the previous season, climaxing in 1996, when his players had a 35-2 record, were ranked first in the nation for much of the season and went to the NCAA’s Final Four. The star, Marcus Camby, was judged the best in the nation, and Calipari himself was chosen coach of the year by at least four court groups.
By: John Calipari
Whether your team is trying to win its first game of the high school season or preparing to take the floor for the national championship, you need to have a multitude of options for your offense. John Calipari brings winning one step closer with his tried-and-true collection of offensive plays. Presented in an easy-to-follow format with diagrams for reference, this book is a must for coaches looking to optimize their half-court game. John Calipari took the basketball program at the University of Massachusetts from one of the country’s worst and made it into one of the elite, a program with legitimate national championship aspirations.
A new state-of-the-art facility, the perpetually sold-out William D. Mullins Center; five straight Atlantic 10 regular-season titles; five straight A-10 Tourney titles; five straight NCAA appearances; trips to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight; and 1996′s trip to the Final Four sent a clear message to the basketball world: besides developing some outstanding UMass teams, John Calipari also built a winning program. He has also served as head coach of the New Jersey Nets.
As someone who prides himself on helping young men reach their dreams, Coach Cal has placed 29 players in the NBA during his college coaching career, including 17 over his first four seasons at Kentucky. The 17 picks over a four-season span is the most of any coach.
- Three No. 1 overall selections (Derrick Rose, John Wall and Anthony Davis) over the last five years. No other coach has more than two No. 1 picks
- In 2010, five of his UK players were selected in the first round for the first time in NBA history
- His six players in the 2012 NBA Draft are the most in the two-round era
- Churned out 17 NBA draft picks, 13 first-rounders, two No. 1 overall selections, five top-five picks and eight lottery picks at Kentucky
- Dating back to the 2008 draft, 22 players under Coach Cal have been take in the NBA Draft, including 15 first-rounders
- Only coach to produce the top two picks in the same draft
NBA Players Coached
Earl Barron, 2003
Antonio Burks, 2004
Eric Bledsoe, 2010
Marcus Camby, 1996*
Rodney Carney, 2006
DeMarcus Cousins, 2010*
Anthony Davis, 2012*^
Joey Dorsey, 2008
Chris Douglas-Roberts, 2008
Robert Dozier, 2009
Tyreke Evans, 2009*
Archie Goodwin, 2013
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 2012*
Josh Harrellson, 2011
Terrence Jones, 2012
Enes Kanter, 2011*
Brandon Knight, 2011
Doron Lamb, 2012
DeAndre Liggins, 2011
Darius Miller, 2012
Nerlens Noel, 2013*
Daniel Orton, 2010
Patrick Patterson, 2010
Lou Roe, 1995
Derrick Rose, 2008*^
Marquis Teague, 2012
Dajuan Wagner, 2002*
John Wall, 2010*^
Shawne Williams, 2006
* Top 6 pick
^ No. 1 overall pick
2012 Nell & John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership Award
2012 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
2012 SEC Coach of the Year (AP/Coaches)
2010 Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year
2010 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
2010 SEC Coach of the Year (AP)
2010 Sporting News SEC Coach of the Year
2010 Yahoo! Sports SEC Coach of the Year
2010 USBWA District IV Coach of the Year
2009 NABC Co-Coach of the Year
2009 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year
2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year
2009 Iba National Coach of the Year Finalist
2009 C-USA Coach of the Year
2008 Naismith National Coach of the Year
2008 C-USA Coach of the Year
2008 Phelan National Coach of the Year Finalist
2008 Iba National Coach of the Year Finalist
2007 Phelan National Coach of the Year Finalist
2007 USBWA District 4 Coach of the Year
2007 Basketball Times South Region COY
2006 C-USA Coach of the Year
2004 NABC District 7 Coach of the Year
1996 Naismith National Coach of the Year
1996 The Sporting News National Coach of the Year
1996 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
1995 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
1994 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
1994 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
1993 USBWA District I Coach of the Year
1993 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
1992 Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year
Not only has Coach Cal molded young men into professional basketball players, he’s also helped shape his former assistants into head coaches. Five of Calipari’s former assistants are current head coaches at Division I programs. Only two other head coaches have more.
Tony Barbee – Auburn
Bruiser Flint – Drexel
Derek Kellogg – Massachusetts
Josh Pastner – Memphis
Winningest Active Coaches
(On-Court by percentage - minimum 10 years at Division 1 level)
1. Roy Williams/UNC
2. Mark Few/Gonzaga
3. John Calipari/Kentucky
4. Thad Matta/Ohio State
5. Bo Ryan/Wisconsin