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When Calipari sees a recruit’s game, it matters

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When Calipari sees a recruit’s game, it matters

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Sat May 14, 2011 7:01 pm

When Calipari sees a recruit’s game, it matters

John Calipari has garnered a reputation for being an elite recruiter, the best at bringing talent to his school.

So it’s fitting that Calipari makes an appearance in this week’s Sports Illustrated article on recruiting.

The article predominantly talks about the grueling grind of assistant coaches for major, but not top-tier, schools. Oregon, West Virginia, Oklahoma — these are not the teams that must recruit players, not select them, as Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke are able to do. These coaches have to work for every advantage, showing up at 8:15 a.m. for a 9 a.m. game so the first face the kid sees is your own, finding the most visible spots in the stands and dressing in full school colors.

Then, the article turns to the deployment of the head-turners — the head coaches. And no one turns heads like John Calipari. An excerpt, from a recent game by Andre Drummond attended by Calipari:

By the time Drummond’s game starts on Sunday, the big names have arrived. Georgetown is there, and so are Connecticut and North Carolina. And then, shortly before tip-off, heads turn as Kentucky coach John Calipari walks in.Knowing when to deploy your head coach is part of the strategy of recruiting. If you have someone with the reputation and charisma of Calipari, you use him in precise circumstances: when you’re sure you want the kid and you want the kid to know it. Calipari settles in directly under the basket. “At this stage,” says Wildcats assistant Orlando Antigua, nodding toward Calipari, “it’s less about us seeing the kid than the kid seeing him.”

Drummond is dominant only sporadically. He’s clearly a project, but his upside is too vast to ignore. Any team—NBA included—would be overjoyed to have him. After one dunk Drummond ends up face-to-face with Calipari, and his eyes widen. He knew Calipari was coming, but that’s different from seeing him there. After that he seems to run the floor with even more intensity, and who wouldn’t? It hardly matters that it’s the noncontact period. A big-time coach such as Calipari can have a huge effect on the process without saying a word.
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