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Tyrese Maxey talks about his Kentucky recruitment, “I wanted to play for him (Cal) so bad”

Tyrese Maxey was only ever going to play at Kentucky.

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Two Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Given the name brand Kentucky Basketball is, it’s not uncommon to hear top recruits call Kentucky their “dream school”, however, that doesn’t always equate to a commitment.

With that said, that was the case for former Kentucky Wildcats star Tyrese Maxey. Last week, Maxey went on The Old Man & The Three podcast with former NBA guard and now analyst, JJ Reddick, and spoke on his recruitment and one season at Kentucky.

Why did Maxey pick Kentucky? Given the success of former Kentucky guards in the NBA, Reddick asked Maxey if John Calipari had shown him a list of names to help convince him to commit. “He didn’t have to show me the list, I knew who the list was,” Maxey responded.

“I had on my goal list, before he came to my house, ‘Get an offer from Kentucky’… That was my goal. I wanted to play for Coach Cal since Derrick Rose. I seen John Wall, Brandon Knight, De’Aaron Fox… I wanted to play for him so bad.”

Maxey accomplished his goal of playing under Calipari, and it paid off. In one season in Lexington, he followed suit of Cal’s guards as he averaged an impressive 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists, and was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Looking back at his time at Kentucky and being coached under Calipari, Reddick asked Maxey to describe the Hall of Fame coach with one word. To which he responded with, “passionate.”

“I’m not gonna use insane, I’m gonna use passionate,” Maxey said. “He’s passionate about recruiting, winning, and his kids getting to the next level and fulfilling their dreams. Not a lot of coaches are passionate about that... That means a lot as an 18-19 year old kid. You don’t know what those family backgrounds are.”

People have and will criticize Calipari for having won just one title with all of the NBA talent he has coached. However, he has transformed many player’s lives over the course of his 40+ year coaching career, and that is a large reason why players want to play for him. Just at Kentucky, his players have gone on to earn over $4 BILLION in NBA contracts alone.

The entire podcast can be listened to below.

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