Originally written on roundballchat.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20: Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks to his team during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 20, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)


It is no secret that no matter where University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari goes, the top prospects follow. The best high school players have shaped their careers to accommodate Coach John Calipari, going as far as to change their commitments during his transitory year to the Kentucky Wildcats. Some of the finest athletes in recent college basketball lore have attended John Calipari’s programs at the University of Memphis and the Kentucky Wildcats.

As a result, in today’s collegiate sports world where universal corruption in recruiting is such a commonality, Calipari has come under scrutiny. Namely, coaching legend Bob Knight took his brash and stubborn demeanor to Calipari, making his disdain obvious by refusing to name the Kentucky Wildcats. Instead, Knight referred to them as a nameless SEC team. Knight and others have found sly ways to snidely implement that Calipari is utilizing unfair recruiting tactics. Calipari did in fact have to vacate two separate Final Four appearances. Calipari is the first coach to do so at more than one university. However, Calipari was not implemented in these allegations.

Players such as Chicago Bulls PG Derrick Rose, Washington Wizards PG John Wall, Sacremento Kings PF DeMarcus Cousins, and on and on have found early success in the NBA. This list goes on far further, leaving questions as to why Calipari has coached such success into his prospects. The current Kentucky Wildcats lineup starring incumbent top pick PF Anthony Davis, F Terrence Jones, G Marcus Teague, F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and G Doron Lamb could all find themselves first round draft picks within the next season or two. This caused this “divide” as  mentioned in the title.

There are those cynics who feel that somehow, some way, Calipari is cheating right under the noses of the NCAA. Calipari has made it no secret that he prepares his players for the NBA from day one. This has a ripple effect that branches into several directions. It does hurt Calipari’s chances at the elusive NCAA championship he has been seeking. The 2005 draft was the final draft in which high school players were eligible for drafting. Since then, four out of the six top picks were “one and done” players. Two of the last four picks were from Calipari’s teams. Anthony Davis will continue this trend.

With the one and done player becoming the new favorite top pick, Calipari’s tactic of coaching his players into NBA form has made him extremely popular among high school ball players. Calipari is not an old school guy like Coach K or Bob Knight. Instead, he has embraced this type of culture among college players. Anyone worth a fifth star is looking beyond college.

A guy like Anthony Davis does  not show up at Kentucky waiting for his acceptance into Med School. He is there to block shots, score in the paint, and win. While these players pour it all into their teams, they are understanding that they have a future beyond college. In order for these players to cash in, Coach John Calipari promises them an NBA type education and an experience at the highest level. This, not corruption, nor gifts, nor money, is the reason that Calipari has brought successes to his program. The mutual symbiosis that Calipari shares with his players will have the draft filled with his guys for years to come.

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