In the past couple of weeks, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has added more frequent flyer miles than most of us do in a lifetime. The 2014 class is really starting to take shape. A lot of bigger dominoes are starting to fall, and the Wildcats coach wants to build yet another No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Just how does he plan to do it this time around?
Between Sept. 9-19, Calipari has visited seven different states and has gone from Kentucky to as far as California in search of the next Wildcat. Please allow me to chronicle his journey for you and give you some insight on his destinations.
On Sept. 9, he actually stayed at home base in Lexington, Ky. while the university was holding their alumni game. Instead of him going out to recruits, he had a couple come to him. Jahlil Okafor, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis all attended the event, and Ulis committed to the ‘Cats before the weekend was over. 2015 shooting guard Charles Matthews was also in Lexington viewing Kentucky’s professional alumni.
On the following day, Calipari flew up to Apple Valley, Minn. to have an in-home visit with No. 2-ranked point guard Tyus Jones. The likelihood of Jones committing to Kentucky seems a bet far-fetched due to his strong interest in Duke. His toughness, high IQ and ability to make others around him better is why Calipari still wants him to know he’s welcome in Lexington. Jones has always been rumored to be a packaged deal with fellow top recruit Okafor. Kentucky has garnered more interest in Okafor, but the duo appears serious about staying a one-two punch.
Sept. 11. saw Calipari fly down south to Bedford, Texas to get a glimpse at Scout.com‘s No.2 overall prospect Myles Turner. The in-home visit reportedly went very well, and Turner’s family was left impressed with the coach. Before Calipari boarded his next plane, he left a scholarship offer.
Another day, another long plane ride for Calipari. This time his landing destination was in sunny Fullerton, Calif. The coach has made it no secret he covets No.1 shooting guard prospect Stanley Johnson the most. Johnson was the only shooting guard in the class to receive an offer from Kentucky for a long while. Calipari has always made it a point to prove to Johnson that he is the guy he wants the most in Lexington. The following day, Johnson trimmed his official list of schools to five and included the ‘Cats.
You simply cannot go to Las Vegas for only one day, and Calipari is no different. Sept. 13-14 had the coach visiting 2014 small forward Kelly Oubre and 2015 No. 1 center prospect Stephen Zimmerman. Kansas has always been the rumored leader for Oubre, but CBS‘s Jeff Borzello set the recruiting world on fire when he tweeted his belief that the ‘Cats now have the edge. To prove he’s not a machine, Calipari took in the Floyd Mayweather fight from the fourth row later that evening.
The Lord said to rest on the Sabbath Day, and Calipari did just that. On the 15, he was back in Lexington. He was able to work with his own players due to NCAA rules allowing this day to be the first time the players and coaches can practice together as a group. He came out of the practice happy with his new team, but they have a long way to go.
Perhaps the worst day of the week is Monday, and perhaps the worst place to visit is the state of Indiana. I guess when you have two big recruits in the Hoosier state, the slight misery is worth the reward. Both James Blackmon Jr. and Trey Lyles once committed to playing for Indiana and Tom Crean. Both have withdrawn those commitments and are rumored to be heavy leans toward Kentucky.
Then on Sept. 17, Calipari was in Lexington for meetings. The following day had him down in Mississippi visiting Devin Booker and 2015 top prospect Malik Newman. Booker should be UK-bound because of a rumored packaged deal with Chicago PG Tyler Ulis.
On the final day of his tour, Calipari hosted 2016 PG Quentin Goodin of Taylor Co., Ky. Goodin is regarded as the best high school player in the state, regardless of class.
So, as you can see, he was a busy man. But of course, that’s why he turns out great classes year in and year out.
Brian Lewis is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can add him to your network on Google for more of his work.