Following the worst season in program history in 2020-21, and the worst postseason loss in program history this past season, it is safe to say that John Calipari’s approval rating is not as high as it has been for much of his time as head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.
With that said, 247 Sports released their top 25 rankings for the best coaches in college basketball ahead of next season. Calipari was ranked second, showing that nationally, he is still thought of very highly.
Here is what they had to say.
John Calipari has appeared in six Final Fours and is one of two coaches –– hello, Rick Pitino –– to lead three different schools to the Final Four. Yes, two Final Four appearances were vacated, but Calipari is still one of the most accomplished coaches in the country. Calipari led Kentucky to the 2012 national championship, and he helped transform the sport by leaning into the one-and-done era. A disastrous nine-win, 2020-21 campaign followed up by an embarrassing upset to 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s in 2022 has raised some eyebrows about Calipari’s future at Kentucky, but he’s still in that top tier due to his recruiting chops and the ridiculous amount of talent he’s ushered to the NBA. You can question his in-game moves or his substitution patterns, but Calipari has won the loaded SEC six times.
Calipari ranks only behind Kansas’ Bill Self, who just captured his second national title. Here are some notable coaches and their rankings.
1. Bill Self (Kansas Jayhawks)
3. Scott Drew (Baylor Bears)
4. Mark Few (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
5. Tom Izzo (Michigan State Spartans)
7. Eric Musselman (Arkansas Razorbacks)
9. Hubert Davis (North Carolina Tar Heels)
10. Jon Scheyer (Duke Blue Devils)
13. Leonard Hamilton (Florida State Seminoles)
14. Bruce Pearl (Auburn Tigers)
15. Chris Beard (Texas Longhorns)
20. Rick Barnes (Tennessee Volunteers)
23. Rick Pitino (Iona Gaels)
Currently sitting at 10 scholarship players for next season’s roster, Calipari has the returning National Player of the Year, four McDonald’s All-Americans, SEC assist leader/Bob Cousy Finalist, former Big Ten 3-point percentage leader, a freak athlete at the four, and a 20 ppg All-Missouri Valley wing. A presumed top-five roster.
With that roster, John Calipari will have the tools to make a run in March, and following the past two seasons, that March run is now a must.