John Calipari took over in 2009.
Since then, he’s helped churn out a multitude of first-round picks and an unprecedented amount of lottery selection. However, until the 2019 NBA Finals, he’d yet to have one on the biggest.
Now, he’s had one get there, but he’s yet to have won take home the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. A Wildcat was destined to win a title once the Conference Finals were announced, but the only non-Calipari-coached player, Jodie Meeks, won.
Meeks played for the Wildcats in 2009, the year prior to Cal’s arrival. Although many may not remember Meeks’ days in Lexington, he was an absolutely monster for Big Blue Nation, averaging almost 24 points per game his junior season.
In addition, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire also got a ring on Thursday. Magloire who played 12 seasons in the NBA before joining the bench in Toronto, also played at UK in the 90s and helped the Wildcats make two national title game appearances, winning one in 1998.
So while a Cal-coached player didn’t win a ring, two former Cats did get to finally win a title.
Coach Cal can rest assured at least Cousins was finally able to get on the NBA’s brightest stage.
DeMarcus Cousins, who was drafted off Cal’s first Kentucky team, played for the Golden State Warriors. The Dubs lost the NBA Finals in Game 6 after seeing two of their top three players go down with serious leg injuries.
Cousins was asked to step up for Golden State, and that he did. While his future with the team is unknown, what we did see from Boogie resembled what UK basketball is all about: determination and grittiness.
After rupturing his ACL in 2018 and tearing his quad this postseason, Cousins continued to fight and did get his chance to contribute on the league’s biggest stage. However, for the Warriors, it wasn’t enough.
Because Golden State lost, Calipari’s players remain without a ring at the highest level. While it’s not a testament to Calipari’s teams, it is one for the overall success of his players at the next level.
He’s had studs like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns who have filled up the stat sheet, but not a single star player has achieved wide-spread team success. John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Knox all missed the postseason.
That being said, next year, as long as Davis is traded, Eric Bledsoe’s Bucks improve, Murray continues progressing and Cousins stays in Golden State, Calipari will likely finally see a player with a ring.
Cousins averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 18 minutes per game through the six NBA Finals matchups.