From trying times to a contending team, Bradley Beal has been the perfect co-star for John Wall and these Wizards, fresh of talent and his own sense of self. Read More. Written by Shams Charania on Nov 24, 2014
Five-star prospects Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe committed to Kentucky on Thursday as members of the 2015 recruiting class.
Labissiere is rated as the No. 11 player in the ESPN 100. He's a 6-foot-10 center regarded as a shot-blocker with lots of upside. He chose Kentucky over Baylor, Georgetown, Memphis, North Carolina, and Tennesseee.
Briscoe is rated as the No. 13 player in the ESPN 100 and the No. 1 point guard. The 6-foot-3 prospect is a powerful presence that can play either guard spot. He chose Kentucky over Connecticut and St. John's.
The five-stars join shooting guard Charles Matthews as members of Kentucky's 2015 class.
"I knew they were good coming into this game, but sitting out there watching it in front of their eyes, on the sideline, honestly I don't see how they're going to get beat this year. I don't like to say that, because I know people have off nights, and things can happen and this-and-that, and injuries and things like that, but if they play like they did tonight, they're an NBA playoff team."
Calipari quickly shot down that narrative by responding on Twitter.
"I hear Coach Briggs got excited after the game last night. Let me be clear: If we played ANY NBA team, we would get buried. ANY."
John Calipari is finalizing plans to host an unprecedented two-day campus scouting combine at Kentucky for NBA executives to evaluate his roster of potential prospects.
Calipari has invited officials of the 30 NBA teams to send personnel to Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 11-12 to watch his players do everything from run full-court five-on-five and NBA-style pick-and-roll sets to individual skill work.
The event will also allow Calipari to impress top high school recruits on campus visits.
After the combine, Calipari plans to shut out NBA executives and scouts from his practices for several weeks – perhaps even months – into the season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
NBA personnel aren't allowed to interact with college undergraduates, but Calipari can simply shape his workouts to be conducive to the NBA's needs.
As one executive laughed, "We're just there as B-roll for his recruiting videos."
John Calipari had an opportunity to leave Kentucky for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he says he would have likely stayed in Lexington even if he had known LeBron James would eventually join him.
"Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special," said Calipari. "It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. That's what I'm doing. At the end of the day, that was what (kept him at UK). It wasn't money."
Calipari was "not as (close) as everybody thought" to leaving for the NBA.
Calipari says James' decision wouldn't have played a factor.
"No. No. I don't think so. Because he and I have a great relationship, but it's not based on me coaching him," Calipari said. "We've got a relationship. I've known him for years and years. We've always been friends. But it was never based on that. I've said that. I've had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I'm leaving names off, but I've coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There's nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys.
"Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what's right for their career was something I couldn't have gotten by anyway."
Nerlens Noel credits Rajon Rondo for being the biggest help in recovering from a torn ACL.
Noel and Rondo each played collegiately at Kentucky.
"With all the support and love, certain guys, especially Rajon Rondo -- he was definitely the biggest helper through this whole process, he actually gave me his phone number and told me I could hit him up whenever about it. Being from Boston, watching him growing up, and he went through it and he came back as strong as possible, actually before me, so it gave me a lot of confidence, having his good faith."
Noel will begin his rookie season one year after being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Julius Randle will likely need surgery on his right foot after the NBA Draft.
Randle will likely need six to eight weeks of rehab before he's cleared to play, which would force him to miss Summer League in July. But Randle is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in the fall.
As a high school senior in Texas two years ago, Randle missed three months with a fractured right foot. There was a screw placed into his foot that needs to be removed as a precautionary procedure, sources said.
Randle's stock isn't expected to be impacted, as several executives considered it a minor issue.
John Calipari was linked to the NBA after the NCAA championship game, but a strong recruiting class and the decision by Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison to stay at Kentucky made leaving Kentucky a difficult proposition, according to sources.
Kentucky will have nearly 60 percent of its scoring return despite losing Julius Randle and James Young.
There's a strong belief that Calipari would have accepted a $60 million offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers had those key players declared for the draft.
John Calipari and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced deeply into negotiations on a seven-year, $60 million contract to become president and head coach, according to sources.
Dan Gilbert had been persistent in pursuing Calipari.
Gilbert and Calipari had discussed a package in the range of $8 million-plus a year, sources said, and it wasn't until midweek that Calipari finally rejected Cleveland and fully committed to his seven-year, $52 million extension at Kentucky.
David Griffin would have worked with Calipari in the front office, but the latter would have final say on all personnel decisions.
Beyond the financial incentives, Calipari had some intrigue with the infrastructure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the possibility of the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.
Update: Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the Cavaliers' offer to Calipari was closer to $80 million over 10 years. The Cavaliers thought that landing Calipari would give the team a much better shot at convincing James to return. Wojnarowski reported a follow-up that there was talk of a transition for Calipari to become strictly president of the club and that the offer was strictly $60 million over seven years.