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Calipari Announces John Calipari Experience

John Calipari announced the John Calipari Experience.

John Calipari announced the John Calipari Experience.

June 6, 2012

Opening statement …
“I’m here to announce that we’re going to have a fantasy experience here. It’s been done at other places. It’s not been done here at the University of Kentucky and I, again, want it to be the gold standard of doing these experiences. Basically what it is, there’ll be 80 spots available for 35-years and older to come in and basically become a Kentucky basketball player. From uniforms, to practice sessions, to film sessions, to being coached by our staff and former players here, to have as many former players as we can come back and be involved in the camp and in this experience, to playing in Rupp Arena, to having announcers and radio and maybe even streaming the games so that their families can watch them struggle up and down the court. But, again, I think this is going to be a terrific thing and you may ask, ‘Why are we doing it?’ It’s a wonderful way for us to, one, connect to a whole new realm of people, two, improve our program. The biggest point is that the money will all go to the foundation. The foundation is the things that we’re doing from the financial literacy to the boys without fathers. The biggest thing that we’re going to be pushing is Catholic schools and, again, it’s not about being Catholic. It’s about education. It could be kept if we wanted to do that but we’re choosing to do something that I saw have great success in Memphis, Tenn., in an urban area where schools were open, not closed. But it was because there were people behind the Diocese to help make sure that they were funded the way they needed to be funded, that they had a plan, and so that’s the next challenge. Again, we’re already getting calls and it’s in the infancy stage right now. We’re trying to get some consultants and some other things to see where we can help, but that is why we’re doing this. It’s another way of doing things that we do, leveraging what we are and what we are about and then helping give that back to our community and our state and different causes we’re involved with. Citi(card) is going to be helping. Until the 15th of June there is going to be early registration. Private pass people will have the first opportunity to do that. They’re being involved in this so that’s really good. We may even let the media cover the games, maybe.”


 

 

On whether he has ever done this at any of his other coaching stops …
“I haven’t. Let me just say this, there’s not many places where you can do these. I hate to tell you we’re one of them. I’m excited. It’s going to be in September, it’s not the summer. They’ll be during a time when our own players will be around, which is neat. I want to use it, on top of that, to start us having an alumni weekend every year that’s around this that we invite as many of the former players that we can to come back. Maybe do banquets around it, maybe do a golf outing around it for them. Do anything we can that they want to come back with their wives, their families and they want to be back on this campus for a weekend. It’s a good time because it’s before they get started in their NBA seasons. In a couple of years we’re going to have about 10 percent of the NBA that played for us.”

On what the proceeds will go to in terms of education …
“We don’t know what we’re doing yet. Again, one of the things we’re going to do is hire a consultant that did what went on in Memphis that’s already talked to the Diocese of Louisville three or four different times right now. One of the people that worked for her is now the superintendent in Cincinnati of the Catholic schools. Please, it’s not about religion for me as much as it is about education even though that’s a big part of it obviously. Many students that go to Catholic schools are not Catholic. It’s about the educational part. It’s a place that we can lend our hands and like I said, some of the things we’re going to try to do are to raise money for the University for athletes that want to come back and be educated and finish their degrees. Some of that may be stipend money. I’ll give you an example because right now Mitch [Barnhart] has done a fabulous job of being able to say we’re going to scholarship those kids. A lot of places just do not do that. We do. But there will be some that’ll be older, have a family, and maybe need a stipend along with the scholarship to make it for those eight months, which we don’t do right now. So, there are some different things that we would like to do for former athletes that we’re able to do here. Mitch and I have talked about this opportunity also giving money to that. Again, you don’t know the end numbers right now but whatever we’re going to do, it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to bring people together, bring our former players in and serve that purpose and leverage all that to be able to say, ‘Okay, through this foundation we can now touch this, this, this and this.’”

On whether he will be very involved for the John Calipari Experience …
“Oh yeah, I’ll be there. I’m not going to coach a team because that’s not fair because we’ll win. But, I’ll be there and we’re going to do stuff at my house. There’ll be a function at my house where they’ll all be there. It was funny, we were thinking about where you house them and all that and different ways of doing it. We’re not going to be able to do it on campus obviously because of the date of the camp. We’ll all be involved. Our whole staff will be involved. It’s not going to be a five day thing. It’ll be shorter. I just want everybody to walk away and say, ‘Only at Kentucky could somebody pull this off like this. Only at Kentucky could they do it to this level.’ And, have 80 guys, who maybe were not involved in our program all of the sudden say, ‘Wow. If this is what Kentucky is about, I want to be a part of this.’ It’s a great way to open up the door to people to be a part of this athletic department and all of the student athletes.”

On whether he expects to reach people from all over the country …
“Here’s what I would tell you. There’s a group of about 30 that go to all of these. Can you imagine what I’m saying to you? There’s a group of 30 that will go Michael Jordan’s that’s no longer running, that would go to Duke and would even go to others. They talk to each other all of the time about, ‘Where are we going next year?’ And they try to kill each other. They’re in there to win. That core group, hopefully we’re going to tap into those guys. And, they’re from all over the country. You’ll have guys from California, New York, Chicago, North Carolina, Florida, that will be here. They’ll be from all over the country. I haven’t sat down with the athletic department or the school and said, ‘How do we do all of this together?’ but we will. You’re going to have a diverse group of, do I want to call them athletes? I don’t know what you call them, that are really into basketball and are really into experiences to be able to say, ‘You know what? We did that.’ They’re willing to do that and pay a lot of money because that’s what they do and they’re able to do it and want to be involved.”

On if his players will be available to help out at the camps …
“Yeah, but normal managerial, counselor kind of things. They will not be coaching. Not my current players.”

On what he is expecting on NBA Draft night …
“I have been on the phones with different people as they work out with different teams, and I am trying to see if I can figure out how this is going to play out. The good news is all six will be drafted. Its’ just a matter of where they will all be drafted. I think it is pretty clear that Anthony (Davis) will be the one pick and then from there Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) will be next, and then I think Terrence (Jones) will be next, and then how does it play out with all the other three. I think all three of them are in great shape. They have proven themselves. Now they have to go do it again. You have to go workout, you have to show you’re in great shape. You have to show them you are chasing something special. I believe they will. I will be there for the draft. The stuff that I am doing with the Dominican Team is the team will leave on the 15th to go to Puerto Rico. I will not go to Puerto Rico. I will probably go down for one or two days and then I will go to the NBA Draft, and then after the NBA Draft, I will meet them in Caracas, (Venezuela). So, I am not going to be the 24-7 that I was a year ago, and I explained that to them and they still wanted me to do this, so Del (Harris) will have them in Puerto Rico and then Rod Strickland will have them down there too.”

On how many UK players he expects to be selected in the first round …
“My hope is all six, but I don’t know. I would be surprised if four are not. I would say four are locks and the other two have to go work out. Somebody called me the other day about Darius (Miller) and he had a great workout. The team liked him. A lot of people like Darius based on the fact of how he played, how he sacrificed, his skill set, his size. They liked him. You are seeing teams now in the NBA that are not talking about isolations, they are talking about team. You see Oklahoma City, who decided to come here and work out for four days. It helped them much, wouldn’t you say? They are playing like a team, and so are San Antonio, Boston and Miami. They want to be great teams. They want players like Darius Miller who they know will be a great teammate.”

On the impact the new summer workouts will make for his Kentucky team …
“Understand what I’m saying here, two one-hour workouts a week. Let me say this. It is better than no workouts all summer. I am more concerned about them getting in great condition, physically getting stronger. We will put in the dribble drive, but the reality of it is, the way you get better is every day you are working at it, and then a day off, and then you are working at it and this gets sprinkled in. It will help some, but it is not going to have the impact everyone thinks it will.”

On if Terrence Jones made the correct decision of coming back to school …
“Sure he did. He is in a better position. We had a good idea of where he would have gone last year. He is in a better position. The other side of it is he knew he wasn’t ready. He helped himself. He is now mature and he helped himself.”

On why he is returning to coach the Dominican Republic National Team …
“Well, they asked me. I kind of gave them outs to say no to me, that I can do the Puerto Rico thing, but I can’t be with the team the whole time, and then some of the guys called me and wanted me to do it. I am enjoying it. Everyone says ‘you have to slow down.’ I will when I retire. I only know one way. I have been this way my whole career. When I was at Massachusetts, when I was at Memphis and now here, you know, have two or three things going at once. If I didn’t, I would probably be bored. This is good. Today Del (Harris) and I were going over pick-and-rolls, and last night in my home, we are arguing back and forth, and obviously he won because we changed some things and they worked. He is looking at me like ‘eh, I’m right.’ It is good for me. It is good to see it and it is another challenge of trying to get a team together in a short amount of time. This one is hard. Last time we had a chance to go to the Olympics and we were a couple of buckets short. Now, you have Lithuania, you have Puerto Rico, you have Greece, Venezuela in Venezuela. Don’t play them, okay. Then you have Russia, Macedonia, New Zealand. You are now legitimately up against it to try and make it. This will be way harder than the stuff we did in Argentina. The good news is I think we are a little bit ahead because I have a good feel for what I am going to do with this group. Now, does that translate, I don’t know. When you are playing a team that is really good, it may not translate. You may say we are way better, but that team just kicked us because they are way better than we are. I’ll get enjoyment out of it, and hopefully we do something unique and special because it’s always fun to coach a team when they say they have never been to the Olympics, they have never done this, they have never done that and you are trying to get that national team started. Again, it’s not something I am trying to do (long term). I would like to see Orlando (Antigua) be that coach of the national team and hopefully there is a ground floor set and hopefully they understand what they have to do to have all of the players they can getting young kids to get passports by the age of 16. See, in Puerto Rico, you don’t have to do that. If a young man can prove that he has any heritage of Puerto Rican background, he is good. He could be 19, 20. In the Dominican Republic, he could be in the United States and his grandmother and grandfather were citizens from the Dominican Republic, and his parents were, but he is in the United States and he never got a passport, so he is 19. Can’t play for us. Now, if he were Puerto Rican, he could. In the Dominican (Republic) he could not. They have to get ahead of the game and get as many kids passports early. It is stuff that is going on now, that they did not do a year ago.”

On if he has any interest in getting involved with USA Basketball …
“Yeah, but again, everyone says that. A lot of it is because how many players we have out there. There are a lot of quality, qualified coaches. I don’t think any of us coaches would say no. To have the opportunity to coach for your country is the ultimate honor. I wouldn’t be mad because there are people out there and quality coaches and more than qualified and probably more qualified than me, but obviously that would be quite an honor.”

On having Ryan Harrow as a returning point guard who already knows the system …
“I’m excited about it. I’m watching tape of Russia right now and they are setting multiple ball screens on multiple players and are doing it on the fly. I’m looking at it saying well you have Ryan and Archie (Goodwin), two point guards with one being bigger and one smaller. One is a passer and the other a scorer and they are both on the floor. Yeah, I am happy because I have a feel for Ryan, not only does he have a feel but I have a feel. He’s different than the other point guards I have had, but how does he compare to the other guys. Well, how did Marquis (Teague) compare to those other guys? They were really good and he is really good. John Wall is different than Marquis who is different than Tyreke (Evans) who’s different than Derrick (Rose), and different than Brandon (Knight). Ryan might be a little bit more of a shooter like Brandon was, he is not the physical bulldog like Marquis was but he shoots it better. With the way we play, he has gotten tougher but he has to continue to get stronger and that is why he came here.”

On having a multitude of projects going at the same time …
“I’m just trying to separate from the pack. When DeWayne (Peevy) and I sit down, we will ask how we can keep separating. There are things we are thinking about doing that if I said them right now some of you would be very angry. We are going to do some new things that are going to be different and you will think, ‘when did they have time to think this stuff up?’ It is different trying to be the coach here, you just try to take advantage of all the advantages that you have. If we like an idea we run with it, some of the stuff we want to do doesn’t work.”

On Anthony Davis’ chances of making the Olympic Team …
“If Anthony is in great condition, like he has been working out and is ready to go, I really like his chances, because they need him. He gives them continuity in USA basketball, and he would be there for the next 12 years. He would be the youngest player to ever play on the Olympic team, post Dream Team. Now they did have another college player but he was a senior and was older. I like the opportunity that he is going to have.”

On the choice to not play on Indiana’s campus …
“I wanted to do what Bobby Knight did, and what he did was he decided the series should be neutral and when it was, it was huge with the Battle of the Flags and all those other things. He was the first one who made it neutral. I liked the idea because we had to move someone neutral and it was logical to be them. We couldn’t find a place in Kentucky, so to make it more beneficial to them we told them we would make it two years in your state. We are not having anything more than two-year contracts, because of the flux of our program. When we schedule we schedule it for us, ‘Well, schedule it for America!’ We don’t schedule for America, we schedule for us. I like the fact in 1948, Adolph Rupp played eight neutral games and Rick Pitino played five or six neutral games and so did Tubby Smith. It prepares you for the NCAA tournament. The one thing that has changed is we are one of the few who can go to football stadiums during the regular season. ‘Well why would you do that?’ Because we can and no one else can. ‘Well you can’t do that because it’s different and would make the purists mad.’ I am not scheduling for the purists, I’m scheduling for my basketball team. So, neutral games are good, now we are going to play a home game that will get us ready for the SEC tournament and a road game that will get us ready for the SEC league play. We are going to have 18 league games which include Missouri and Texas A&M, two NCAA tournament teams and we have a Big East game. So what we are doing is what is right for our program. And what I told Tommy (Crean), Tommy move on, we have our schedule and you have your schedule and our schedule is tough. If you want to compare them to anyone else’s schedule go do it. I don’t know why we have to play everybody but no one else did. See they only played us, and they only played us and no one else did. Why don’t you play each other? Well, because. We schedule for us, not for anyone else, it is not mean, and it is just real. The greatest thing right now is not about compromising, we offered Indiana two games in their state. ‘Well you didn’t do what they wanted to do?’ Okay then we won’t play. It isn’t mad or being mean, we have North Carolina back on the schedule and are in talks with Duke. I want to play a triple-header so bad, men and women on Friday and the football team on Saturday and just overrun a city, I don’t know which city, but you would be overrun by people.”

On whether other coaches have reached out for advice on how to schedule …
“They know we can do it, and they said you should. We have already talked to some teams about triple-headers.”

On whether he has spoken to football coach Joker Phillips on the possibility of a triple-header …
“He just said please don’t make it Notre Dame.”

On the logistics of scheduling a triple-header with the SEC football schedule …
“You would have to do it in November, and both teams would have to have an open date and the stadium would have to be available.”

On whether he agrees that Kentucky-Indiana type games make college basketball more interesting …
“We could have played it. I don’t know why we’re not playing it. It could have been in Lucas Oil, playing the game. I don’t know what happened.”

On Indiana wanting the game to be played at home for their students to come to the game …
“They’re only two hours away, are they that poor? They couldn’t get to that building? Our students are going. Ours would go up there. Again, I’m not scheduling for anybody else, I’m scheduling for us. You guys would say, ‘Well it’s about the regular season, not about postseason.’ You think that’s true here? You could write the story all you want. Do you think that’s true? You lose to Louisville and North Carolina and win the National Title, how do you think they’re feeling? (Reporter says, ‘Fine.’) Maybe. Again, life has changed for you all. It’s changed. I’ll put it this way, for you all five years ago, it ain’t five years ago. Now if you didn’t change, you’re going by the wayside. That’s what’s happening in your business. Guess what’s happening in college athletics? The same thing. In basketball it’s changing and we want to be ahead of the curve. We want to be doing things. And if it’s not able to do it with certain schools then you do it with other schools and that’s how we’re doing it. I sat with Coach (Joe B.) Hall last night at dinner and what he said was what Coach (Adolph) Rupp did was he played eight neutral games around the country to make the program a national program and from 1948 on, that’s what it’s been. He did that. I looked at him and said, ‘It was nontraditional wasn’t it?’ And Coach Hall said, ‘Yes it was.’ When you do things and they’re going to be a little different and you’re preparing your pictures differently from everybody for what you’re trying to do. The greatest thing about social media is I can keep everybody informed on how I’m thinking, not what you think I’m thinking. They know what I’m thinking and why I’m doing it because I tell them, ‘Here’s why I’m doing this.’ That’s why our fans have been great. They have been great. Now you can write that the fans are all mad. Those seven are mad. But the fans as a whole are great. They’re fine with what we’re doing. That’s what I said. I’m happy with our schedule. I’m happy with my team right now. I like the team we have. Someone said, ‘how are we doing it?’ Well we’re doing it because we’re not having nine and 10 and 11 players on the team. My first year, I did. You know what? That was my team that we weren’t a great execution team. What did I mean by that? We weren’t a great execution team. We weren’t a real good team. We were good players. We weren’t where we needed to be as a team. It was hard for that team and we played 10. And then, the next year we play six guys and all of the sudden by the end of the year, we’re the best team in the country. Last year, we play seven guys. The best team in the country obviously, team and players. And so, I like what we have coming back. Again, freshmen, sophomores and a senior. We have a couple guys that are hurt that are going to have the chance to now show that they should be playing or not playing.”

On whether Darius Miller’s playing variability will be an issue for him in getting drafted …
“Here’s what it is. I can’t argue with them because they’re seeing it. Are you going to believe me or your eyes? They’re going to watch him and they’re going to work him out and they’re going to either think, ‘This kid plays hard enough or he doesn’t. Does he play rough or does he not.’ Now, they’re going to ask me what kind of kid he is, what do I think of him but they know I’m going to brag on my guys. There’s not going to be anything else. But, that workout is an interview. It is what it is. That’s your interview right there. You’re going to go in that gym and you’re interviewing against five other players. Is your interview better than their interview? Now, they don’t care that you won a national title, that you played at Kentucky or any of that. They don’t care at all. They’d rather have a kid from Louisiana Tech make it because then they look like geniuses, like they found somebody. Believe me when I tell you, they’re looking for the Central Arkansas Scottie Pippin who’s the next one that they can say, ‘I found him and I can put that I evaluate better than everybody else.’ So, the Kentucky national title, everybody has seen them, it will have no effect on how they are drafted. It’s going to be in those workouts. A couple of them are in pretty good shape.”

On whether all of the incoming players will be here for the eight-week session …
“They’ll either be here for the eight-week or the six-week.”

On whether he gives his players any advice about interviewing for the NBA …
“I’ll talk to them but that’s what their agent’s job is to do. What their agent should be doing is having them in workouts, having them be trained. What we’re doing here is getting them prepared for that and then they do mock interviews, what to say, what not to say. There are times when they go into interviews and they say the wrong things and it’ll get back to me or the agent. I’ll call the agent and say, ‘Did you know that he’s not saying the right things in here? You’ve got to make sure that he understands.’ At this point, they come from being my child to now they’re 24/7 with the people that are representing them now.”

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