John Calipari is Ruining College Basketball With Recruiting Goals

By Connor Muldowney
John Calipari
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors, the smell of fall is in the air and the brisk air signals the start of the college basketball season. For top basketball schools, this is the best time of the year. For John Calipari, this is the beginning of another year to try and recruit top talent.

Calipari is the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats and widely considered one of the top recruiters in the game. He’s so good at coaching for one reason: he has coached 29 players into the NBA since he became a head coach in 1988. After working his way up the ranks to a top program like Kentucky, Calipari has been everything the Wildcats have hoped for and everything college basketball has had nightmares about.

No, I’m not talking about his winning. I’m talking about the way he recruits players. Calipari has been involved in scandals in the past involving improper benefits, but it will take much more than accusations to find this guy guilty of any wrongdoing — he seems like he’s just that sneaky.

Calipari’s Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament a season ago and were knocked out in the first round of the NIT, much to everyone’s delight and surprise. That proved that even though he had top talent, he couldn’t mold them into men. He was dealing with a group of immature players and that didn’t matter to him.

His logic: there’s always next year when I have the top recruits once again coming for one year.

Kentucky has been a pit stop and a renting place for top high school talent to call home for a year as they play basketball and get an “education” for free. Why do I put “education” in quotes? It’s because the likelihood of his players going to class when they know they will be in the NBA a season later is close to non-existent. Maybe it’s the NCAA’s fault for giving such a low age limit for NBA players or just an age limit at all. However, Calipari is taking advantage of the faulty system.

He recently just had top recruit Devin Booker commit to Kentucky for the class of 2014, knowing that he has a good chance to go pro. However, this is the goal of most college athletes, so why is this a problem? It’s because Calipari has openly admitted to going after one-and-done recruits, not caring that he has a revolving door each offseason. In fact, five Wildcats were drafted in 2010, four in 2011, six in 2012 and a mere two in 2013.

Yeah this looks great on paper for these guys, but just six of those guys have a fighting chance at playing time while the rest just got to the NBA and will likely never have a prominent role on a team. Why? Because they were never developed into mature, high-IQ basketball players.

This is the problem with college basketball, guys like Calipari not caring about the well-being of athletes, but only caring about winning national titles.

Shame on you, coach.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at

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