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John Calipari talks about next season’s roster; “Blessed” to be at UK

Calipari is waiting on some decisions to be made.

Kentucky v Kansas State Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The college basketball offseason is here and that inherently comes with a lot of uncertainty for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats, potentially even more so this year.

Of course, Jacob Toppin and Cason Wallace have announced they will be entering the NBA Draft, but there are several players yet to announce their decisions.

Calipari is bringing in a talented group of freshmen, but until the aforementioned decisions are made, he is not able to effectively recruit to recruit the transfer portal. He even said this at the Final Four this past weekend.

“I have not done much in the portal this year. I know our name is out there, but I’m still trying to figure out what my team looks like,” Calipari said.

“Cason (Wallace) and Jacob (Toppin) are definitely in the draft, staying. Oscar (Tshiebwe) will be putting his name in the draft, maybe staying (in). Chris (Livingston) — well, we’ve got a lot of guys that will probably put their name in, so I’ve got to weave through that first to figure out who we have coming back.”

Interestingly, one of the names he did not mention in his comments is Antonio Reeves. On Tuesday, Reeves announced his intentions to test the draft waters, but left open the option to return to Kentucky.

In the end, I do expect Reeves to return to Kentucky for another season. His shooting and experience would be a welcome addition to a group of talented freshmen, that have questions surrounding their shooting abilities. However, Reeves is 22 years old, and if given a contract from an NBA team that meets or succeeds the six-figure NIL figure (i.e. two-way contract) that he earned at Kentucky last season, he would likely make that jump.

Another decision that should come soon is Oscar Tshiebwe’s, who will almost certainly decide to enter the NBA Draft. However, it could be some time before any decisions are made by CJ Fredrick or Chris Livingston.

And of course, Ugonna Kinglsey Onyenso is now in the transfer portal, so there’s no shortage of available scholarships.

With that said, Kentucky can’t afford to be ‘caught with their paints down’, and must recruit from the portal assuming that those players are gone.

Calipari’s admitted lack of activity in the transfer portal has drawn some criticism, something he is far from foreign to as the head coach of Kentucky.

“When you go through some seasons at a Kentucky, the thing I’ve got to tell you is, if I’m ever feeling sorry for myself — what? I’ve been blessed to be able to coach at Kentucky, even in the bad times,” Calipari said. “I know other guys say, ‘I want to coach at Kentucky, I don’t care,’ so I am blessed to be able to do what I’m doing.”

Calipari went into detail about the blessing the Kentucky job is, allowing him to help young men and their families.

“The reason is Kentucky is a stage I can really help kids compete for national titles. You can really help kids. Our kids in the NBA, what they’ve been able to do with their lives, they’ve made over $3 billion.”

There have been few that have understood what it means to be the coach of Kentucky off-the-court, but after three seasons of subpar postseason results, patience is wearing thin.