While many may think that becoming a part of a program’s family requires a player to stay for multiple years, Kentucky has been heavily disproving that as of late. John Calipari made it clear at Big Blue Madness that no matter how long you stay at Kentucky - whether you stay one year or four, graduate or transfer out - you are a member of the Kentucky family for life.
Calipari spoke on his idea of basketball family during the Kings-Wizards game at Rupp Arena Saturday night.
“People think they have to stay four years to have a relationship with the program, the coach,” Cal said. “If they know you love them, if they know you care about them. If they know the city and this university was all about them when they were here, this is home. This is about these kids and that's why they know.”
The family message that Cal preaches is one that John Wall hears loud and clear. Wall, one of Kentucky’s greatest recruits ever and a No. 1 draft pick, was the star of Calipari’s first Kentucky team, the one that put the Wildcats back on the map.
Wall was a huge part of making Kentucky basketball one of the nation’s elite programs again, and that’s why Calipari sees him as a major key for the program.
"He and DeMarcus (Cousins) and Eric (Bledsoe) and Patrick (Patterson), they were the building blocks," Calipari said. "They made it okay for me to go get other guys like them because no one agreed with me. They understood you could be about the kids and still win every year. They were the building blocks of this."
The recruiting and coaching style that Calipari has built his basketball empire on is certainly unorthodox; he wants to win championships, but at the end of the day, it’s about putting his players, the members of the Kentucky basketball family, in the best position to succeed in life.
That’s why Wall to this day looks back and considers UK family, just as he posted on Instagram recently:
And playing at Kentucky puts players in a great position to make it to the next level. That’s something that Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Patterson all experienced first-hand. They were an elite team for one year, and now they’re all experiencing success in the NBA.
Every player that plays for Kentucky becomes apart of the family, and that family has been quite successful, producing 30 NBA players, four Final Fours and a National Championship just in the Calipari era.