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Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman virtual press conference recap

“Cal’s one of my mentors. A guy that throughout the years I’ve leaned on, not just for professional advice but personal advice. He’s someone I look up to. He’s a friend. He’s a mentor and he’s a Hall of Fame coach.”

UK Athletics

Kentucky officially added Ron “Chin” Coleman and Orlando Antigua to the men’s basketball coaching staff earlier this week.

On Saturday, both coaches had their first virtual press conference with local media. Here is a recap of what they said via UK Athletics.

Orlando Antigua

On what was the secret to success during his first tenure at Kentucky …

“Thank you. I’m excited to be back. I don’t know that there’s any real secret sauce. I just thought it was a lot of great synergy and togetherness and just finding the right pieces. Obviously, everybody knows that this year was an abnormal year. Everything that has transpired. So, I think that’s an offset of what’s normal and we’re trying to get back to doing the things that we’ve done. Cal’s always requested of his kids and of his staff to get back to working really hard and working together, being a players-first program. So we’re looking to doing all of those things and just hitting the pavement and trying to find and identify kids that are going to want the pleasure of the pressure, which is what it is being at Kentucky. You’ve got to be able to want to take on that challenge, live up to that challenge and allow us to push you through so that you can go out and shine and chase your dreams, and in that process we go out and win a lot of games.”

On what he’s improved on as a coach since he left Kentucky …

“Well, that’s a great question Darrell (Bird). I’ve got a better appreciation now having had the opportunity to sit in that seat (head coach). To know, not quite know, but a better idea of what is coming at Cal, what he has to do, and our jobs as assistants is to try and take things off his plate. We need to figure out tomorrow’s news yesterday. So staying on the ground, staying connected with the kids, staying connected with just people in the basketball world and our relationships, and doing those kinds of things so we can better serve him and make sure that he’s prepared for everything.”

On what Coach Cal means about his uplifting spirit and why that is so important …

“Well, that’s a great question John (Huang). It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve been. Obviously, the things that I’ve experienced in my life has allowed me to have a great appreciation for life, for opportunities. And having gone through a lot of challenging obstacles being able to keep things in perspective, understanding that you want to be around good people, you want to surround yourself around good people. That doesn’t mean because you’re around good people that it avoids you going through hard times. But it does give you a perspective of appreciating going through some tough times and knowing that that’s going to make you better. So being able to communicate that with our players and getting them to (understand I can) be a sounding board for someone as they go through their own experiences and their own obstacles. Let them know, ‘Listen you’re going to be better for it if you can at least stay with the process. Keep working. Keep trying to maintain your positive energy because I know on the backside of it what that becomes.’ Eventually, God willing, they’ll have the opportunity then to reach back and to share those experiences like the staff and I have been fortunate enough to do, So then they can also uplift and bring up the generations that come up behind them.”

On if he and Ronald “Chin” Coleman were a packaged deal …

“Darrell, that’s unbelievable perspective. Like, I never thought about it in that way before because obviously, Chin and I are great friends. We are great colleagues. But everything is based individually on every person’s families, needs and perspective. So, my reasons for wanting to come back are way different than Chin’s reasons for wanting to join and be a part of this experience. We’ve shared some of my experiences. I’ve known Chin for 15, 16 years or so when he was on the circuit, when he was coaching, when he was up and coming. We spent a week together in Memphis. So, we’ve had a long-standing relationship, and then to get the opportunity to work with him just increased that bond when we were at Illinois and going through some of the challenges that we did there and being able to help Coach (Brad) Underwood bring that program back to its heights was something that we cherished. We were able to build a bond through that. So, me sharing my experiences here, me sharing my experiences with working with Cal and him being made from the same kind of cloth, the way he works, his relationships, the way he builds relationships not just with staff but with the players and people, he’s an unbelievable people person that you all are going to be extremely excited to get to know. But it’s consistent. It’s consisted with the staff that Cal has had and now has with Bruiser (Flint) and Jai (Lucas), just with everyone. It’s really positive and great people to be a part of. I’m excited to be back home and I’m excited to be a part of that group.”

On what he said to Coleman about working with Calipari …

“I told him that it’s great. Cal’s one of my mentors. A guy that throughout the years I’ve leaned on, not just for professional advice but personal advice. He’s someone I look up to. He’s a friend. He’s a mentor and he’s a Hall of Fame coach. So, when you’re someone who’s like Chin who is still up and coming and he gets an opportunity to work with a Hall of Fame coach it’s very appealing, very attractive. Obviously, he gets a chance to—what I told him is this is Camelot. This Camelot. It’s the winningest program in college history. Those things are easy to sell.”

On his success as a recruiter the first time around and if it is realistic to think they can continue to get a top-five recruit every season in this ever-changing landscape …

“First, let me say this Ben (Roberts): Again, I was a part of a really, really good team. I didn’t get anybody. We were able to go and recruit and get. I was just happy to be a spoke in that wheel and it’s that same kind of wheel that we have now is how we’re going to approach our recruiting. Will we get some? I hope so. Will we miss on some? Probably. The landscape has changed. We have all of these new dynamics that are in play. Well, we’re going to try and manage it as best we can. Like I said, we have a Hall of Fame coach that you can go out and talk about. When you have a program with the history and the success that we have here at Kentucky, those are all great things to talk about to kids and families. You talk about the educational part of it. There’s so much that we can go out and talk about not just the basketball. And by the way, the basketball part that’s pretty good too.”

On how to sell the Kentucky experience to potential recruits …

“It’s different. The kids that the G League and pro leagues are going to target are very talented. But you can’t use a brush to paint all of them. Each individual family has different circumstances that they have to weigh and what experience they’re trying to go through to get to their dreams. Some of the families are going to what the educational piece of it. Some are going to want the value of sacrificing and playing on a team and playing and competing with other really, really good players and getting into an NCAA Tournament and making a Final Four run and potentially a national championship. There is extreme value in that right. There’s also extreme value in an unbelievable experience that happens when you go through that that you can’t put a price on. The kids that have been here and go through that those experiences are going to outweigh anything they’ve ever done in their lives because it’s special. It’s such a rewarding experience, and they’re loved in the state, they’re loved throughout history and then you get a chance to become one of those special groups that are endeared for life. It so it depends on what the families are going to want to experience and our jobs is to try and communicate how special that experience is when you come to a place like Kentucky, and we do the things that we know and think that they can do by coming here.”

Ronald “Chin” Coleman

On if he and Antigua coming to Kentucky was a packaged deal …

“I don’t think it was considered a packaged deal. I think that it just so happened that our profiles and what Coach Cal wanted at the time just so happened to be on the same staff. I don’t think it was a packaged deal. I think that Coach Antigua handled his situation and his decision that he made in his lane and I handled my situation and my decision in my own lane. We kind of run our own race in terms of making executive decisions, although it didn’t hurt the fact that he and I have an unbelievable chemistry. Our connection is unbelievable. We’re really, really tight and we’re like brothers. We’re able to work really well alongside one of another, and that just makes for a strong union. But I don’t know about it being a packaged deal or not. I think that each individual ran his own race and came to a decision that was best for both of us and we wound up, again, at the same spot.”

On who said yes to Kentucky first …

“I think Orlando said yes first. I was dealing with a different situation. I had a lot going on. I had a lot of opportunities and I think I made the best one of course. I chose to coach for Hall of Fame coach John Calipari and the opportunity to coach at Kentucky was just something that I couldn’t pass up.”

On his relationship with John Calipari before now …

“A long time ago – well, not that long ago – but when I was a high school coach at Whitney Young High School in Chicago. We were a top-10 program in the country. I’m sure you guys have heard of Whitney Young and all the great players that have played there, and I coached there. When I was a high school coach, Coach Cal was at Memphis. He may not even remember this, but I came up to Memphis and I studied Coach Cal for a week. Coach Antigua remembered that. I was there for a week just studying the dribble-drive offense at the time. That’s what I do: I’m a forever student of the game. I study like crazy. I study everybody. I go and visit everybody. I want to learn. I’m one of those guys that, if I can take a page out of this book, his book, that book, put it with my pages, now I’ve got a really, really, really good read. I’ve got a great book. I did that as a high school coach, and that was kind of like my first introduction to Coach Cal and it was from an admiration standpoint in what he was doing in the offense and obviously the success. I want to be around that. I want to be a part of success and winning. And so that was my first introduction to Cal when I was a high school coach, and obviously I followed him throughout my coaching career. We’ve been in some of the same gyms in Chicago and all over the place recruiting, so we’ve known of each other for a while, but I never, ever, ever dreamt or thought that I would have the opportunity to work for him, and that’s why when that opportunity came, it was like a sweet deal, man. It was just so sweet to say that I was coming to coach at Kentucky.”

On his social media comments about winning “many, many, many, many championships” and how many he is talking about …

“I’m not sure, but let’s be honest, that’s what they’ve done here, right? I don’t think I went out on a limb at all. This is Kentucky basketball. They’ve already hung many, many, many, many, many, many, many championships in the rafters and on the walls if I walk around Rupp, as I walk around the practice facility. That’s all you see is trophies. They don’t even have enough room for all these trophies. They’ve got trophies everywhere, so I think that I was on spot with what I said. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again, and it will happen. Let’s be clear. So, I think I was speaking to the obvious. That’s what this place is about and that’s what we plan on giving a championship effort. Now, we may not win many, many, many, many, many championships, but I guarantee you our effort and of course my effort will be at a championship level. I’m unapologetic about that.”

On what some of his strengths are to expedite that process …

“I think that my strengths come from a lot of different places, but if I had to narrow it down, obviously it would be my relationships with the players, my player development, my skills, my training. Obviously I’m a really good ball coach. I can coach both sides of the basketball. Here last year I was the defensive coordinator for us at the University of Illinois and we had a top-five defense in the country. I had every single scout(ing) assignment – every single one of them I had. So, I’m well-rounded as a basketball coach. I’m also able to recruit here and there, you know. I think I’m also talented with my relationships and my connections across the country with recruiting. But, you’re going to get a well-rounded individual, someone who comes to the gym every day with a sort of energy that, no matter what time it is, if it’s 4 in the morning, if practice is at 5 in the morning, Chin is going to have the same energy. I don’t drink coffee at all. My energy is my energy. That’s how I am and who I am when I wake up out of bed. There’s no coffee. I don’t go to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks or none of that. That’s who I am every day.”

On what Antigua told him about Kentucky …

“He told me that this place is on steroids. I understand the dynamics of this place. I truly am starting to see it. I have only been here for 36 hours. I see it as I go to the parking garage to get my car. I’ve seen it when we went to have dinner last night. This place is on steroids. It is different. It hits different. I understand the dynamics of that. Having Coach Antigua who has been through it all already before to kind of help me with the transition is also a very, very good opportunity for me to have someone who has been through it, who has experience with it, instead of going along and going through it without any of that. So, he’s going to be a big help to me in terms of the transition, but I’ll figure my way around. I’ll figure my way around. We’re all trying to figure our way around and I’ll figure my way around step by step, step by step. I’m not going to jump any steps. I’m not going to rush into anything. I’ll figure it out. I always have and I’ll adapt.”

On what Coach Antigua’s strengths are …

“Man, Coach O has been doing this for 20-something years. He’s got a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of experience. He’s obviously been a head coach already. There’s not one person across the country that doesn’t like Coach O. Even when I was not working with Coach O, I had known him for a long, long time, andy anybody that you meet, they love Coach O. His personality, he’s a jokester. He’s the worst joke teller but funny guy in the world. They’re horrible. These Harlem Globetrotter type of jokes, it’s just ridiculous, but they’re still funny. Because they’re bad jokes but they’re still funny tells you the type of person he is. He’s a high-character kind of individual. He’s all about helping you. He’s all about trying to make sure you’re OK. Sometimes I’m like, ‘O, I’m good, man. What about you?’ Like, he’s always about making sure that everyone else around him is OK. He’s like a big brother to me in terms of all of those things, but from a basketball standpoint, Coach Antigua is a head coach. He is. He lives and operates like a head coach. He’s got all the tools that you need to be a successful head coach, and when he gets his opportunity again, I know this time around he’s a much better coach than he was the first time.”