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Kentucky Basketball: John Calipari is Coming for your Soul

Does a shark smile right before he bites off your legs?
Does a shark smile right before he bites off your legs?

That's right, Roy Williams. You too, Mike Krzyzewski. Heads up, Billy Donovan and Ben Howland.

Coach Cal's back.

One of the things that has to really put pressure on college coaches with designs on the nation's top players is hearing that John Calipari is back in the country, and planning to hit the recruiting trail. As we have seen the past three seasons, that means only one thing -- a slew of commitments from highly-ranked players that have been recruited hard by every major program in the country.

Adam Zagoria has a remarkably apropos piece today, almost as a companion to yesterday's article about Andrew Wiggins. In this one, he cues up the famous, "Da-da. Da-da. Da-da-da-da-da-da..." of Jaws:

Kentucky fans might want to go ahead and send a fruit basket to the Nigerian basketball team.

You know, because after Nigeria eliminated the Dominican Republic from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Sunday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari was freed up to hit the recruiting trail in July.

In the words of one of my followers, @UK_MJ, "Cue the ‘Jaws’ music."

What's so funny about this is just how true it is. Calipari is the biggest, baddest fish in the recruiting ocean, at the very top of the food chain. No coach is closer than Coach Cal to the recruiting ideal -- that is the scenario in which all the best players want to come to your school, and you get to pick which ones make the grade.

The ability to nearly cull the top 25 for his favorite players is powerful in more ways than one. Not only does Coach Cal get to pick the top talent, he can avoid picking guys who have the potential to be destructive to his team concept without sacrificing talent level. The same holds true for academics -- Cal can select from among similar players the guys who are going to work hard in the classroom and not end up getting the program on the NCAA's APR hit list, like the Connecticut Huskies are this year.

For the most part, experts have a pretty good idea who will be at Kentucky next year, but there is still quite a bit of flux. Internecine squabbles between players and families can create a challenge that only a guy like Calipari, with his record of maximizing a player's value at Kentucky, can overcome. Coaches without that track record would have no chance of dragging players who compete with each other in the same state to Kentucky. Note that I'm not saying this will happen -- what I am saying is that Calipari might be the only coach in college basketball who could potentially make that happen in some of these cases.

Calipari has at his disposal the largest number of NBA draftees in the last five years of any coach in America, all of whom are apparently happy to sing his praises. Think that a recruit doesn't care what NBA 2011 MVP Derrick Rose thinks about Coach Cal? Or Anthony Davis? Or 2012 MVP LeBron James? If so, I'd reconsider if I were you.

Parents of players also can't fail to notice Calipari's success at making millionaires. Just like people listen when guys like Bill Gates or the late Steve Jobs talk about computer software, or when Warren Buffett talks about making money, parents and players listen when Coach Cal talks about college basketball to potential one-and-done, and even multi-year college players. They listen because he, like the aforementioned moguls of the digital and financial world, has proven that he knows what he is talking about, and more importantly, he produces results that make people rich.

The days of having free shots at recruits are over, dear college coaches. Just like Jaws and the Dread Pirate Roberts, Calipari is back. Cue Andre the Giant: