If you scan the roster for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, you see the familiar last name of Calipari on the roster. John Calipari's son, Brad. is a guard on the 2016-17 roster and for Wildcat fans, seeing the coach's son on the team is not an unusual thing.
Brad will be the fourth son to play for his father as a Kentucky Wildcat since Adolph Rupp put on his brown coat. It's been an interesting trend in that every other Wildcat coach has coached one of his sons in the blue and white.
Adolph Rupp coached Herky Rupp. Joe B Hall did coach a son, but Sean Sutton played for his father, Eddie. Rick Pitino did not duplicate the trend, but Tubby Smith had Saul. There was no Billie Gillispie spawn on the floor, but Calipari is bringing this back with Brad.
How have the kids fared at UK? Let's take a look at the past Wildcats to play for their fathers.
HERKY RUPP (1959-92)
- Career stats: 14 GP, 11 PTS, 13 REB
- Overall team Record: 60-19
- Best team record: 23-3 (1961-62)
Herky did not play in the glory days of Kentucky basketball but the last team did finish with the #3 ranking in the country. I was going to comment about how this was a down period but pretty much any coach in the country would take a 75.9 winning percentage over the three-year span with a conference title in 1961-62.
This team made it to two Regional Finals and lost to Ohio State each year. Granted, the NCAA Tournament was a different animal then, but an Elite Eight is an Elite Eight.
It's hard to imagine the Memorial Coliseum crowd yelling for Herky to "shooooot" when he touched the ball as he shot just 30% for his career and just 1-7 his last season. Like a coach's kid, he nailed all five of his FT attempts for his career.
SEAN SUTTON (1987-89)
- Career stats: 54 GP, 212 PTS, 182 ASSISTS, 60 REB
- Best season: 1988-89 - 5.9 PPG, 4.71 APG, 1.65 RPG
- Overall team record: 38-24
- Best team record: 25-5 (1987-88)
Sorry to bring up bad memories, but Sean Sutton played in the dark days of Kentucky basketball. According to the NCAA, the SEC Tournament Championship in 1988 never existed, nor did the Sweet 16 appearance. Sutton played in 23 games that year, averaged about 7 minutes and 1.26 points.
He was pressed into service a good bit in 1988-89 primarily out of necessity. The season was a disaster as the Cats went 13-19. There were a few good things that Sutton did on the court. He was a pretty good three point shooter at 41.9%. Not too much of this season was memorable, but there is one thing I'd like to see again but I doubt it is possible.
The exhibition game back then was against the Sweden national team, which was kind of cool. Also, the start of the season schedule consisted of a Tip-Off Classic game against #1 Duke, an appearance in the Great Alaskan shootout, and the Big Four Classic in Indianapolis. Now that is how to schedule your first six games of the season!
SAUL SMITH (1997-2001)
- Career stats: 143 GP, 730 PTS, 364 ASSISTS, 268 REB
- Best season: 2000-01 - 6.82 PPG, 3.97 APG, 2.1 RPG
- Overall team record: 110-33
- Best team record: 35-4 (1997-1998)
Probably the best thing for Saul Smith's career as there were no social media when he played as it could have been brutal for him. Smith was part of the National Championship team in 1998 his first season and part of two back to back 10 loss teams when he departed. Unfortunately, most of the fan frustration was directed at his father but he started to feel the wrath as well.
Thanks to a four-year career, Smith ranked #4 at UK in games played, #11 in assists, #14 in team victories, #16 in steals and #20 in three-pointers made, He was also part of a National Titel, two Elite Eights, three SEC Titles and three SEC Tournament Titles.
While Sean Sutton was played more as a necessity, Saul Smith probably got more minutes than he deserved. a fact that was not lost on the Big Blue faithful. As a freshman on the title team, he averaged over 16 minutes a game while averaging 3.0 a game. For his career, Smith shot 35.9% from the field and had a career A/TO ratio of 1.59.
BRAD CALIPARI (2016-??)
What should we expect from Brad Calipari? I would say that the career of Jarrod Polson could be a good blueprint for Calipari. In his first two seasons at UK, Polson played just 62 minutes and scored just 7 points. We may see more minutes from Calipari due to the fact that there will be a lot of blowouts along the way, but I think that Calipari will make his kid earn his playing time, just like any other player.
From what we have seen of Brad, he seems to be a pretty tough kid and has been dealing with the social media pressure of having the last name of Calipari from opposing fans already. He seems to be tough mentally and to be a pretty good three-point shooter.
It is interesting that Brad could leave Kentucky with the record of most team victories during his career. That record is currently held by Wayne Turner with 131 wins. To beat him, UK needs to average 33 wins a year over the next four seasons.
Let that countdown begin. And the yells at Rupp Arena for Brad to “shoooooooot”.