NEW ORLEANS – Kentucky coach John Calipari knows he has no time to rest despite winning his first national title with one of the most dominant seasons ever in college basketball.
The 53-year-old coach has to hit the road to bring in more talent because he is certain a good portion of his current team will jump to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“I said this a couple years ago and everybody got crazy when we had five guys drafted in the first round,” a strangely pensive Calipari said Monday night after his team beat Kansas 67-59 for the Wildcats’ eighth championship.
“This is one of the biggest moments, if not the biggest, in Kentucky history. The reason was, I knew now other kids would look and say, ‘You got to go there.’
“What I’m hoping is there’s six first rounders on this team. We were the first program to have five, let’s have six. That’s why I’ve got to go recruiting on Friday.”
Calipari is the nation’s top recruiter and will undoubtedly have to re-load despite starting a team with three freshmen and two sophomores.
Six-foot-10 first-year player Anthony Davis would probably go number one in the June NBA Draft if he decides to leave Lexington.
The multi-talented power forward from Chicago, named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, said after the game that he has until April 29 to make a decision and he needs to sit down with his family and Calipari.
He is just one of many players on the 38-2 squad that will don NBA jerseys if not this year then next.
Calipari has heard all season that his squad was so good because they are more physically gifted than anyone else. The coach conceded his team is wonderfully athletic but said the real reason for the success is that they are unselfish.
“What I wanted them to show today is that we were not just a talented team, we were a defensive team, and we were a team that shared the ball,” he said.
“They’re more talented than everybody. We were the best team this season. The most efficient team. We shared the ball.”
Kentucky’s 38 wins set an NCAA record for most victories in a season. Calipari led Memphis to 38 wins in 2007-08 but those were later vacated because he used an ineligible player.
Kansas coach Bill Self praised Calipari and his staff for getting his youngsters to buy into the team concept.
“They’ve done a fabulous job coaching their team,” he said. “They share. They like each other, the appearance is. And they certainly defend. They’re playing with pros, that didn’t hurt either.
“But, you know, they’ve done a great job coaching their team. I don’t think their staff gets the credit sometimes that they deserve on how well they coach because they’re so talented.”
Calipari, who has a 102-14 record in his three years at Kentucky, does not like the NBA’s rules that essentially make a youngster play at least one year of college before joining the NBA.
Though it has certainly not hurt his winning percentage, he would like the system to change.
“I don’t think it’s a good rule. I hope we change it before this week’s out so all these guys have to come back,” he said with a smile.