In his eighth season in Lexington, the 57-year-old Kentucky coach talks about one-and-done players and explains why winning a national title is not the most important thing.
RYAN ASSELTA:You've been accused of being the creator of the one-and-done player. How do you respond to that?
JOHN CALIPARI: First of all, it's not my rule. I'd love to coach these kids for four years. But the way the rule is now, you have to let them leave after one year if it's their choice. Here's a great stat for you: I've had 20 [players] who have left after one year. Of the 20, 10 scored more in the NBA [in their first season] than they did with us. We taught them to share and to be about their teammates. The three freshman guards I have now [Brad Calipari, De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk], I had to sit them down and tell them, "You're taking the most shots. Don't take bad ones. The bad shots you're going to take have to go to your teammates." Those are the things that we're trying to teach. Make them realize that numbers, minutes, all of that stuff is not important. Just be the best version of you. Anthony Davis [the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft] took the fourth-most shots on his team here. Karl Anthony Towns [the first pick in '15] took the fifth-most shots. Devin Booker [the 13th pick in '15] came in off the bench for us. Regardless, you're trying to become the best version of yourself. You're trying to become the ultimate teammate.
RA:Is a season without a national championship considered a failure?
JC: No. If my team won the national title, I'd be happy, but if not one of those players was drafted, I'd be disappointed. It's bigger than just winning.
For more of Calipari's interview, plus the SI Now archive, go toSI.com/SInow
"I'd love to coach these kids for four years."
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