Posted March 12, 2019 15:01:58A recruitment process that’s broken, but that won’t stop recruits from getting the job done.
For Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has spent much of his coaching career recruiting underachieving teams, the last few weeks have been no different.
A year ago, Caliparri was looking at a team that finished 22-14 and in the top 10 in the AP poll.
The Wildcats were expected to be a top-10 team heading into the 2016-17 season.
But after going 7-9 in the ACC regular season and 9-4 in the conference tournament, Kentucky was expected to finish second in the East, which would have put it on a par with Kentucky.
In fact, Kentucky finished a disappointing 16th in the league, finishing the regular season ranked 30th and missing the postseason.
So, Calin said, it made no sense for him to make a move to get to the top of the conference standings.
“You don’t want to make the jump to the next level when you’re a team like that,” Caliparys assistant said.
“I’m not going to put that much pressure on myself.
I’m not a guy that puts a lot of pressure on himself.”
He said it was difficult for him and his staff to find a way to win with the team that had a lot to prove, and they were not going for it in the tournament.
“If we’re going to make that leap, we have to prove that we’re better than everybody else,” Calin told ABC News in an interview on Monday.
“We’ve got to make it look like we’re a top team in the country, and then it’s a really good fit for us.”
Calipari’s team will play the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kentucky has been ranked No. 2 in the nation for the past three years.
Caliparis staff has been successful recruiting under-the-radar programs, but the Wildcats have had to do a lot with the recruiting process to reach the top.
The last five years have seen Kentucky get an NCAA tournament berth only twice, including in 2016 and 2017.
Caliparis team was hoping to be better this year, and that is why the team made an effort to recruit under-recruited teams.
“The guys that are not in the conversation are going to get the job,” Caliper said.
The first time Caliparies team recruited under-regarded teams was at the end of March, when it went out and landed Kentucky transfer guard Jordan Morris.
The next recruiting cycle, Cali had a different recruiting approach.
Instead of sending a handful of guys to the state to get an idea of what Kentucky’s recruiting environment was like, Calico was looking for players that could recruit at the highest level.
“It’s just a way for us to get our name out there,” Cali said.
In the first four games of the season, Kentucky had only four scholarship players on the court.
The team also recruited underclassmen with a focus on developing players who would compete for national championships.
“There’s a lot more respect for a national title than a national championship,” Calippari said.
But he also knows that Kentucky needs to improve if it is to get there.
Kentivans roster has gone through major changes in the last two years.
The coaching staff has lost four players from the 2015-16 roster, including the team’s only two players in the starting lineup at point guard, Jaren Jackson.
Jackson has struggled to adjust to the Wildcats offense, and his playing time has been limited.
Kentucky has lost its only two seniors on the roster, with senior forward Justin Anderson and sophomore forward Jordan McRae.
It has also been difficult to find the right player to take a big role in the offense.
“You’ve got a lot, but a lot is a big part of what it is,” Calips said.
With the departure of Jordan Morris, Caliper believes Kentucky is headed in the right direction in recruiting.
“Jordan has been a really great player,” CalIPARI said.
“We’re hoping he can help us in a big way this year.”