Calipari On AD: If You Want To Win, You Start With Him

John Calipari shared his thoughts on Anthony Davis, Kentucky and college basketball transfers, among other topics

Tiki and Tierney
June 11, 2019 - 4:19 pm

Anthony Davis has likely played his last game with the New Orleans Pelicans. The only question is, where will he end up?

Kentucky coach John Calipari shared his thoughts on the matter Tuesday on CBS Sports Radio.

“I don’t know if he’s going to have the choices he wants,” Calipari said on Tiki & Tierney, “but I’m just telling you: there are organizations that – if they’re primed to win and they have a plan to win a championship – you start with him. You give up whatever you have to give up. I don’t care how many players are in the trade. Whoever got the best player out of the nine, they won the trade.”

Calipari, who coached Davis at Kentucky, understands why star players want to play with other stars and chase championships.

“That’s how they’re evaluated,” Calipari said. “When their careers are over, did you win a championship or not? That’s how they’re evaluated. Their window of opportunity is small. That’s why they want to play on good teams and sometimes play together. If you’re in a situation that shows no hope, if you’re Anthony Davis – who is a generational player and has never changed. The same guy he was when he played for us, he is now. But he’s a generational player. He could play in New York based on this: he played for Kentucky and won a national title.”

Calipari, who has guided Kentucky to four Final Fours since arriving in Lexington, also weighed in on the rising number of transfers in college basketball. Even Calipari’s son, Brad, has entered the transfer portal.

“You got to think in terms of the kids,” Calipari said. “My own son graduated in three years and has two years to play. He may come back, but he’s going to explore, look around to see if there’s a place where he can play more. It’s hard to play at Kentucky. It’s hard to get minutes. I sleep with his mother, and it’s hard to get minutes.”

Point being, coaches need to be upfront with players during recruiting.

“If kids aren’t told the truth or are lied to, why should they have to stay?” Calipari asked. “You better tell the truth. You better not tell every kid they’re going to be your leading shot-taker. You better not tell every kid they’re going to be the center of attention. Or you’re going to have two and three and four guys leave a year.

“Again, I think you got to think in terms of what is the best situation for these kids,” Calipari continued. “My mind has always been their name and likeness should be like Olympians. Maybe they got to put the money away, but they come back and get it later. In our case, we give every kid a lifetime scholarship. They can come back when they choose to come back and finish up. They’re insured to a level that makes it safe for them to play if something ever happens. You try to do everything you can.”

Calipari, 60, has no problem with college basketball players doing what is in their best interests. He’s also accustomed to having players leave en masse.

“No one has had more guys leave than us,” Calipari said, “and you know what? It hasn’t hurt us. It hasn’t hurt me personally. It makes it hard now. I’m aging real fast, but we’re winning. We’re in Final Fours, we’re winning league championships, 40 kids are getting drafted, the turnover every year – I’ve got a different team every year. It makes it really difficult on me and the staff but pretty good for the kids.”