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John Calipari talks Cats, NBA draft, recruiting and more

Calipari talks about the season in review, goes in-depth about NBA draft declarations, recruiting and more.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With the season over for the Wildcats, John Calipari hopped on to Kentucky Sports Radio on Friday to talk about the season in review.

Cal talked about how special of a season this was, even though it ended in a nauseating loss to Indiana far sooner than we all expected. Cal even said how he wasn't afraid of any of teams in the NCAA Tournament field, even though UK was placed in arguably the toughest region.

He also discussed the players declaring for the NBA draft and how it can be a really special thing for even guys like walk-on Jonny David. Here's a recap of everything Cal said, and you can hear the full segment here.

On how he's doing
"Still nauseous. Getting by that - I haven't watched the tape. Matter of fact, I haven't watched, or listened, or read any basketball. I just don't even ..."

On if he's watching games this weekend
"No, no. I could care less. It's an early exit. These guys said in the NCAA Tournament (it's my earliest exit) since 2004. Seed aside and all the other stuff, I think it was Joel (Justus) who said I watched the tape - he watched the tape.

"I'm not watching that tape - but he said three one-footers, two front-end one-and-ones, we could have been up - I mean, it was just one of those games. I'll accept it at some point in my life."

On if it's worse to lose to a rival in the NCAA Tournament
"Yeah, I mean the season ended. I don't care who, if it was to Stony Brook, or Indiana, or Louisville, or whoever it is. You lose, you lose, and you're dead. It's over. I just thought this team had a chance. There was no one in the field that I was afraid of as a coach, coaching this team, if they were their best version.

"It wasn't like if a couple guys played bad. We could have withstood that. But you couldn't have four to five guys just not play well. We didn't have enough. And then it put too much heat on the guards. Everybody was like, well - one of my friends in the coaching business said, ‘I would have thought Tyler (Ulis) would have shot more.'

"Well, he missed some shots, and if you watched him throughout the year that if he does miss, he's not in a hurry to keep shooting. That's not how he is. The one where he went over the middle and had the foul line shot and he passed it and gave it to Isaiah (Briscoe). That kind of showed where he was.

"And then Jamal (Murray), everybody said their length - what? They were the same shots that he's gotten all year, played the same way everybody played him, he just didn't make them. He missed a bunch. We need him to get 25-30 (points) in that game to win the game."

On if he was worried about having an off-night shooting
"It wasn't about shooting. It was always that we had five bigs, two or three have to come. We don't need all of you, and if you all do great that's great, I'm happy for everybody. But we need a couple of you to come and really perform. And give credit to Indiana.

"One, we shouldn't have been playing them that weekend, everybody knows it now. And two, they played well. I mean, they made two three-point plays in a row that were - one was an and-one and we left a corner, which you know what I say, we're not leaving the corner and the guy just left the corner, and the guy didn't even make that shot.

"And they were physical, more physical than us, wanted the game more. They were the aggressor and they deserved to win."

On every player declaring for the NBA Draft
"Well, there's a couple pieces of this. As you know, I was in that room to try to get the NBA to do the combine and try to get us to where kids could put their names in more than once and not be penalized. It was more about having all of these players hear from the NBA, not from me, not from some guy that's the butcher or the barber that tells you - or uncle, who's never played, that you're this, and you're a first - no, you're going to hear it from them.

"So, basically, with this group it's like, here's what it is, there's no penalty if you want to know if you're good enough to go to the combine. And there's gonna probably be, I'm guessing 40-45 underclassmen. If you're not one of those, you're not getting drafted. So, then you take your name out. If you are one of those, probably 20 of those kids will be told to go back to school."

"They will interview kids while they're there in Chicago. What if you don't get interviewed? Like, no one requests an interview? What does that tell you? Go back to school. And if you are interviewed and they say you're going to be picked here and here, if you're satisfied with that, go in the draft.

"If you're not, you're not hearing it - I've had one of our kids come in and say, ‘Coach, I'm not going to be in the D-League, and I'm not going to go in the second round. I'm going to run this out and if I'm a second round pick I'm coming back.'

"Well, that means you're not delusional, and I was really happy to hear it. There's other kids that, ‘It doesn't matter," and that's OK. It's their life. It's not our life, and we've been fine."

On if there's a downside to doing this
"No, there isn't. And the thing with Jonny (David) is I was having fun. I said, ‘Jonny, you're going to put your name in, and you're going to fax it to the NBA. Keep the hard copy and you're going to frame it, and you're going to show your grandkids and your great-grandkids and say, Yep, ol granddad here put his name in after his freshman year. That's how good I was.'

"So, people can take it how they want. When it's me, the haters are going to hate, and the other people are going to say, I know why he did it."

On how proud he is to see Tyler Ulis a projected first-round pick
"I remember sitting him down and everybody when we took him said, ‘This is great for you Cal. You have a four-year point guard.' That's when he was there in my office before he committed. I said, ‘If you think you're staying here four years don't come here.'

"I don't want guys that that's what they're striving for. And that's when he's like, ‘Well, I'm coming then, because I want someone to believe in me like I believe in myself. I want someone who's not afraid to look beyond a 5-9 body and say that I can do what anybody else can do.'

"He's up for player of the year. He's up for the (Bob) Cousy Award. I think the player of the year, if we had won through this weekend, I think he would have gotten it. It just makes it harder. But I think the point guard of the year, I'll be surprised if he doesn't get the Cousy award, which is a big deal.

"And again, I don't want to sell him short. I'm telling all these NBA teams, Isaiah Thomas has proved you can be 5-9 and have a big impact on an NBA game, which he has in Boston. The second thing is, the low side of Tyler Ulis in the NBA is he is your second unit point guard.

"You don't have to worry about your second unit now. As a coach, the minute he goes in - and people that don't follow the NBA closely, you have to understand you're second unit, if you're a 35-win (team), can make you a 42-win (team). If you're a 42-win, can make you a 55-win.

"If you're a 55-win, can make you go into the 60s with your second unit being solid. The guys that don't second units in the NBA, you're winning 35 games, and even a good team is gonna win 41. He becomes at the very least that. But I don't want to sell him short. There are teams in the NBA right now that could use him as their starting point guard."

On getting focused on the next group
"Well, let me say this. I was in two cities (Thursday) night recruiting. And when I was walking to the plane I was feeling good because recruiting for me is I get to meet families. You get to go in, you get to hear their story, you get to try to figure out, does this fit? Is this the kind of kid?

"And then you're also looking like, you can have an impact on this family for the next generation if this is all done right. So, as I walked out, I was in more of a recruiting mode than the coaching-trying-to-get-over-a-loss mode. And I've been running. I mean, last week I left, I went to the northeast and I did some recruiting. To be honest, you want to get away from this stuff.

"But I do want to tell you how proud - can you imagine what this team was able to do this year? I mean, we won the league and won the league tournament. We were a team that was playing as well as anybody late in the year. It was the best offensive team I've maybe had since I've been here. I think there was a lot of stuff that walked away.

"You look at a Tyler Ulis and Jamal and even Skal (Labissiere) and how he improved during the year. And other guys where, Isaiah Briscoe's coach and the players up there, ‘We can't believe you got him to guard the way y'all have. We knew how good he was, we didn't know he was this good.'

"And as a coach, that's all you want to hear. Like, I knew he was good. There are people who called me about Skal, ‘I never thought you'd get Skal to fight and have the play that he had late in the year.' That's what you want to hear, and this team did it.

"Now, it ended way too soon, some of it's in your hands, some of it's not in your hands when you're in this NCAA Tournament. Some of it is you just have to play the hand that's dealt you, and some people are given really good hands. They got two aces before they deal the other three cards.

"And then you have a deuce and a two and they're different suits and they hand you the next three cards, and that's OK. It hasn't set us to this point. I'm not sure any of that mattered in how we played that second night. Now, John Robic reminded me we played five games in eight days because our league tournament ends on Sunday and it means nothing."

On if he wants SEC Tournament dates changed
"Yes. And then they put us on Thursday, at midnight. I mean, there was a lot of stuff - five games in eight (days) - but at the end of the day we didn't play long enough."