LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sporting News has named University of Kentucky coach John Calipari its Coach of the Decade, noting not only his outstanding record, but his overall influence on the college game.
Under Calipari, in the past 10 years Kentucky has won more games, been to more Final Fours and had more NCAA Draft picks than any program in college basketball. Calipari has had the top recruiting class six times. And his ability to identify, develop and deliver NBA talent has revolutionized the way other top college coaches approach the game.
Beyond that, Calipari brought UK its eighth NCAA championship — ending a 13-year drought — in 2012, amid a span of four Final Four appearances in five years, a feat accomplished by only two other coaches — John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski. He also led the Wildcats to a 38-0 record before a Final Four loss to Wisconsin in 2015.
Calipari told the magazine that he didn’t necessarily have a master plan upon arriving at Kentucky, but he did have a guiding principle.
“I knew we were going to make the program — and I said it at the press conference — it was going to be a players-first program,” Calipari said. “We were going to make decisions based on them and their needs. And it’s not just about the name on the front. It’ll be about the name on the back. That’s how we’re going to do this.”
In the process, at Kentucky he has made once-in-a-lifetime players a routine occurrence. He coached No. 1 picks John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, and he has produced a Top 10 pick in 12 consecutive NBA Drafts. Since 2008, he has produced 38 first-round draft picks.
In the Sporting News story, Mike DeCourcy said, “no one defined the 2010s in the same way as Calipari … nor achieved the same degree of consistent success.”
Before the season, Calipari said he’s energized after his first 10 seasons at Kentucky, and looking forward to the next 10.
“I've been here 10 years,” he said. “Kind of thinking back, it's been a pretty good run. So now, going forward has been I'm, this is the second tour, let's see what happens now. That, what happened for those 10 years are done. Final Fours, national champion, all the stuff, it's done ... Now what happens in the next 10?”
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