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Locked-Out Ex-Wildcats Wanted Back on UK Campus

John Calipari and John Wall (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is a great recruiter. That is no secret. University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Caliapari has a great big heart. That, too, is no secret. But now, Coach Cal has combined those two highly valued assets and has essentially re-invented the whole recruiting process. At the same time, he’s allowing former UK players unable to work due to the NBA lockout to use the university’s practice facilities AND continue their education, if need be. The man is a stone cold genius.

First, I don’t want it to sound like Cal is doing this just so potential recruits can “bump into” current NBA stars/former Wildcat stars while they’re on campus; the move is a genuinely altruistic one. But, hey, every coach uses whatever legal tool he has in his arsenal. This just happens to be Coach Cal’s latest tool. During a lockout, NBA team members cannot get into their official practice facilities. So Coach decided to open up UK’s for any former Wildcats who’d like to use them. John Wall is already on board. I would imagine others will take advantage of this most generous offer.

EARNING HIS PAYCHECK

The best coaches are often the best recruiters. In the college game, it goes hand in hand. That’s why I hate it when college coaches leave for the NBA. It’s a completely different animal. Coaching in the NBA is simply coaching. That’s it. If you are an ace recruiter, why would you want to stop exercising that valuable skill? Besides, some NCAA coaches are so good they can price themselves right out of NBA range. John Calipari has now fallen into that category with his new contract extension. He’s good through 2019 in Lexington. And this came before Cal decided to reach out to former players locked out by negotiation breakdowns. Here’s why this is brilliant on multiple levels: so far, Coach Cal hasn’t landed his trademark boatload of blue chip recruits for 2012. With this new selling point, the already powerful University of Kentucky brand simply strengthens in the eyes of the brightest and the best the country’s high school hardwood has to offer. John Calipari has now scored a home run, not only for former players, but future players as well. When you throw in the magic he’s already worked with current players, it’s a win-win-win. And that’s what UK basketball has always been about.

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