When John Calipari arrived at Kentucky, he took over a program that had just finished .500 in the SEC and missed the NCAA Tournament. In just a few months, he completely transformed the roster into one that became a national title favorite and won an NCAA-best 35 wins.
With renewed success, a rejuvenated program, and the “cool” optics of John Calipari and his then style of play, Kentucky was the place to be and at the top of every recruit’s list. As was the case of Will Barton, former Memphis guard and NBA veteran Will Barton.
Coming out of high school as part of the 2010 recruiting class, Barton was a consensus top 10 recruit and considered to be one of the best shooting guards in the country. Naturally, there was mutual interest between him and Kentucky, so much so that he said he originally committed to the Wildcats.
So what changed?
In a recent interview with the Gifted Network, Barton says his mom asked him about the idea of playing with his brother, Antonio, in college. Shortly afterward, the brothers went on a visit to Memphis, then coached by Josh Pastner, who was one of the first coaches to recruit Barton. While on the visit, the brothers committed to play.
In two seasons at Memphis, Barton averaged 15.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and was named C-USA Player of the Year as a sophomore. Barton went on to be drafted in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA, including a seven-year stint with the Denver Nuggets, where he was a starter and key contributor.
Could you imagine Barton on the 2011 and 2012 Kentucky teams? Both made the Final Four, and the other won a national title without him.
Take a listen to Barton’s interview below.
NBA vet and former C-USA Player of the Year Will Barton was nearly a Kentucky Wildcat.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) August 23, 2023
“I originally committed to Kentucky.”
Instead his mom suggested he team up with his brother at Memphis.
Can you imagine Barton on the 2011 and 2012 teams?
IG/Gifted Network pic.twitter.com/Dx215ulBVl