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John Calipari Is a Great Coach…and a Very Efficient Book Signer [VIDEO]

Dave Spencer

I’ve never been to a book-signing before, but if any author out there is approaching such an event for the first time or hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it, talk to UK coach John Calipari.

Tuesday afternoon, Coach Cal was at the Owensboro Sportscenter to sign copies of his new book Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out. The event was scheduled to last from 3PM to 4:30.

But Calipari got there about 15 minutes early to chat with the folks–more than 300 of them–about the past season and the phenomenon that IS Big Blue Nation. He also took questions from the crowd.

He was naturally plied with queries about who’s leaving and who’s coming back. He knows what we know. (Unless, of course, he knows MORE than we know and just can’t say it yet, which is totally plausible.)

We know that James Young and Julius Randle have declared for the NBA draft. We don’t know what the Aaron and Andrew Harrison are doing yet. And Cal said as much.

But he also talked about the conversation he had with Willie Cauley-Stein when the 7-foot center surprised him with the revelation that he would be returning for his junior season.

Coach Cal said he asked him why. And WCS forthrightly explained that he would be very close to his degree and that there are parts of his game that need work and that Calipari is the one to help him in those areas.

Smart guy.

He mentioned the unselfishness of the players he’s coached in his time at Kentucky, like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who volunteered to give up his starting spot to Darius Miller for UK’s SEC championship game against Vanderbilt in 2012. MKG told Cal that Darius needed to start, to get out there, to get his confidence in top form in preparation for the NCAA Tournament. As we all know, the ‘Cats lost that one to Vandy only to win the next six and cut down the nets in New Orleans.

It was a nice, relaxed Q & A.

Then the book-signing began. And Cal laid out the rules. Bring your book up. He signs his name. (No time for “To Uncle Archie and Aunt Rhoda. Go Big Blue.”) You walk in behind him. The camera guy will count to three. You and Cal look up and smile. You move on.

Well-oiled machine.

Sounds simple, I know, but it really was fascinating to watch. My favorite part was when a pen would go flat and Cal would just toss it behind him, pick up another, sign, and never miss a beat.

John Calipari travels the country doing stuff like this, but still sees the importance of being present in cities like Owensboro and Bowling Green (his next stop that afternoon).

Just don’t ask him who’s coming back. He can’t (or won’t?) tell you.


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