Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari is doing his best two-step this week as he’s had one foot in the past, while the other is ready to bounce into the future to begin his 13th season in Lexington
On Tuesday, Calipari met with the local press to discuss summer workouts and was emphatic about “moving on” from a horrific 2020-21 basketball season. In fact, the 62-year-old has a new spring in his step and seems to be champing at the bit to unleash his most experienced team yet on the college basketball world this season.
Ironically, Calipari’s week ended with a time machine back to the University of Massachusetts campus on Friday where he had his own statue unveiled to commemorate his contributions to the UMass basketball program.
The Hall of Fame coach spent eight seasons in Amherst (1988-1996) and turned UMass into a national power, leading the Minutemen to the Final Four in 1995-96 with a 35-2 record and a No. 1 national ranking for 10 weeks on his way to being named National Coach of the Year.
Calipari is the winningest coach in school history with a 193-71 record, winning five straight Atlantic 10 titles and making NCAA appearances from 1993 to 1996.
John Calipari unveils his UMass statue pic.twitter.com/4plQhQdO4q— Frederick Hanna III (@FrederickHIII) September 10, 2021
The Kentucky coach was one of four UMass legends honored on Friday as statues of Julius Erving, Marcus Camby and Jack Leaman were also unveiled. Erving, known as “Dr. J”, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, while Camby played on Calipari’s Final Four team and was named National Player of the Year, playing 17 seasons in the NBA. Leaman was a legendary coach at UMass between 1966-1979. The 1995-96 Final Four team was also inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday.
Calipari, a Pennsylvania native, will continue his trip down memory lane on September 21st when his alma mater, Clarion University, will name its basketball court the John V. Calipari Court (“Coach Cal Court”). Calipari played at the school, then called Clarion State, during the 1981 and 1982 seasons after beginning his playing career at UNC-Wilmington.
After finishing 9-16 last season, Kentucky is projected as a top-10 team in pre-season polls and will get its first big test on November 9th against Duke at Madison Square Garden.