How Calipari's Relationship With Worldwide Wes Began
John Calipari was the subject of a lengthy feature by S.L. Price in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.
As part of the profile, Calipari's relationship with William Wesley is included.
"He's become the bogeyman," Calipari says.
Calipari first became associated with Wesley when he was recruiting Kevin Walls in the mid-1980s for Kansas. Walls eventually chose to play for Denny Crum at Louisville and eventually quit as a sophomore. Milt Wagner and Billy Thompson, close friends of Wesley, also had less than positive experiences at Louisville.
"The kid should've gone to Kansas," Wesley says of Walls.
After that experience, Wesley wanted to make sure his godson Dajuan Wagner (Milt's son) did not end up in a similar situation when he became one of the most highly recruited high school players in the country.
At the time, Calipari had recently resurfaced as an assistant coach to Larry Brown with the 76ers after an unsuccessful tenure with the Nets.
"When I was sitting there, watching a Sixers game, and I saw Coach Cal, I said, I'm going to see if he's going to get back into [college] coaching," Wesley says. "I approached Cal. We talked about Kevin Walls."
Calipari took the Memphis Tigers job when it became available in 2000 and he realized that landing Wagner would mean also bringing Arthur Barclay (Dajuan's best friend and housemate). Dajuan's father Milt also was interested in getting into coaching.
Calipari signed Barclay and hired Milt as his coordinator of basketball operations. The following year Dajuan enrolled at Memphis for his one college season.
"Love is an action," Wesley says. "You've got to show it. That's what Cal's done for his players, his coaches, and he continues to do it. If you call me and you have a son and you say, 'Who would you recommend?' I'm going to say there's one coach I trust impeccably."
Calipari was once quoted as calling Wesley (also known as Worldwide Wes) a "goodwill ambassador" for the Memphis program, but he says that's wrong.
"I said, 'For me, personally,' " Calipari says, adding that Wesley is also close with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.
Wesley is credited with helping Calipari send Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall to Calipari, but he does so without an implicit hope that they sign with Leon Rose.
Dajuan did sign with Rose, but Evans and Derrick Rose are represented by Arn Tellem, and Wall signed with Dan Fegan at BEST.
"None of my best players have gone to CAA," Calipari says. "Look, in this profession everything is about the relationships you have, whether it's high school coaches, AAU coaches, pro players. Over 20 years, you create a lot of goodwill and friendships. That's what it is. If you're not being fair with kids, guess what? All those people over time build up too, and they're working against you."