CBS recently put out an article that detailed potential replacements for Calipari once his tenure at UK has ended.
Now, let’s be clear - Calipari has not announced his intention to leave BBN any time in the near future, and he sounds like he plans on going for a little while longer.
But let’s be honest, it’s a fun storyline to think about, to debate, and to discuss across BBN. The easy and obvious - but also legitimate names - include Mike White from Florida, Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens from the NBA, and Will Wade from LSU. Here’s an interesting twist in our hypothetical coaching search that I think would be a great replacement for Cal: current University of Nevada head coach, Eric Musselman.
Musselman has twice been a head coach in the NBA. Before becoming NBA champs with Steve Kerr, Musselman was the head coach of Golden State. He was also head coach for the Sacramento Kings. Two head coaching stints in the NBA and now an appearance in the Elite 8 is pretty impressive for the 53-year old Musselman. He has coached elite, professional talent and has the NBA connections that recruits are looking for.
After each of Nevada’s 2 wins in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Musselman has showed the world his exciting personality and charisma. There is no doubt that Musselman is one of the top Xs and Os coach in college basketball. There is also no doubt that the energy, enthusiasm and leadership he’s shown during the NCAA Tournament will make him one of the top recruiters in college basketball for years to come.
His locker room presence, personality in front of the cameras, and demeanor on the sidelines makes him an promising candidate not only for recruits and college administrators, but for fans as well. In 2 of his 3 seasons at Nevada, Musselman has been named the Mountain West Coach of the Year.
Kentucky Basketball is one of the godfathers of college basketball recruiting. Calipari has shown time and time again at UK to be the best recruiter in the nation. Coach Cal has spoiled BBN fans, and the coach that replaces him will need to be an elite recruiter. Musselman has the experience, energy, and passion to be this kind of recruiter.
The University of Nevada is a much more challenging location than UK, there’s no debating this. But according to 247Sports, Musselman has a Top 50 recruiting class, including one 5-Star recruit, and a pair of 3-star recruits. In 2015 Musselman landed 4-Star point guard Lindsay Drew.
For the 2016 class, Musselman brought in twin brothers and future NBA draft picks, Caleb and Cody Martin (transferred from NC State). The Martin brothers played their prep ball at Oak Hill Academy, which most of BBN is very familiar with. Along with the Martins, Musselman brought in two 4-Star recruits that same season. So he’s very familiar with “re-loading” the roster with top-notch talented recruits.
Calipari is one of the best coaches in the nation in dealing with not only the fan-base, but also with local and national media. The UK basketball job comes with several media and PR obligations. Billy Gillespie failed miserably at these obligations. Calipari has excelled to the point where he could probably run successfully for Governor in the state of Kentucky.
Musselman has shown the savvy and the personality to be similar to Calipari in this regard. He is energetic, passionate, and charismatic. He would absolutely be capable of fulfilling the media and PR obligations of the UK coaching job.
Calipari isn’t going anywhere in the near future. He’s basically assured BBN that he will coach until his son Brad graduates from UK. After Brad’s graduation, I’m sure it’s a possibility that Cal could pursue other opportunities. It’ll be a nearly impossible task to replace Calipari once he decides to leave. But mark my words, Eric Musselman would be a great candidate to attack this near impossible task.
The Eric Musselman Coaching Checklist:
- A coach with NBA experience and knows what it takes to get players to the next level
- A coach with success in the NCAA Tournament
- A coach with the track record and swagger to recruit elite level players
- A coach with the personality and charisma to be the face of Kentucky Basketball