Kentucky Wildcat head coach John Calipari is a man of 1,000 catch phrases. Some of his favorites include Succeed and Proceed, Refuse to Lose, Positionless Basketball, and Scared Money Don't Make No Money.
His latest is short, to the point, and aimed directly at recruits: who wants to be next? The best college basketball recruiter in the nation has made it an annual thing to write a recruiting manifesto on his blog. This year is no exception.
Cal opens up by talking about last season, growing as a coach, and the amazing sacrifices that the players personally made in order to allow everyone to play. Seven of those players turned pro. Four of them went in the lottery, two of them in the second round, and one went undrafted but is playing extremely well in the NBA summer league. Not too shabby.
Calipari then goes on to speak about next year's team. Feel free to get excited about this:
I’m so excited about our team this year. We could have the best backcourt, and maybe the best frontcourt in the country. I think we will have depth, athleticism and shooting. I couldn’t be more excited about the challenge. Then I asked our guys coming back: Why not? Why not do something crazy like last year?
In the last paragraph, he specifically addresses the recruits:
As far as recruiting, if you watch our teams – not only last year, but the other years also – you’ll notice players have improved. Nobody is left behind. We’ve had 40 scholarship-recruited players, 25 have been drafted by the NBA and another handful are in Europe, the D-League or still here on campus. I think that tells the story.
Now I’ll say this to all the recruits and their families: Who wants to be next?
It's clear by his words that the platoon system was used against him on the recruiting trail this season. He saw elite player after elite player commit to programs with less than stellar basketball tradition. It had to sting to watch players that he felt he formed a good bond with spurn him.
But it may not have all been the platoon. Stephen Zimmerman's mom tweeted out that maybe it wasn't the platoon that made kids go to other schools, but the pressure of following such a historic team.
Here's what I have to say to the recruits and I'm sure it's what John Calipari would want to say if he could: if you don't want to share time and compete with other great players or if you don't like college basketball's biggest stage, then see ya. Coach Cal has said time and time again that playing at Kentucky isn't for everybody and it's obvious that it wasn't for most of the players in the 2015 class. And that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but Cal has a vision of what he wants at Kentucky and players have to buy into that with no hesitation.
The team that Kentucky has for the upcoming season isn't scared of the spot light or the competition. These kids want to be at Kentucky because they know they will get results. Their game will improve, they will be on an amazing team with plenty of exposure, and they have a great chance of hearing their names called on draft night.
Jamal Murray even turned down a lucrative contract to play for Kentucky because he knows the exposure he will get in Lexington will earn him even more money on draft day. And he wants to be challenged at the highest level of college basketball.
So as we finally close the book on this weird recruiting season, John Calipari asks who wants to be next. I find that Scared Money Don't Make No Money would have been a more appropriate slogan for the 2015 recruits.