Kentucky coach John Calipari wrote about the school’s message to prospective recruits as part of a three-part series on his website, but in the process he may have taken a shot shot at Duke and Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, ‘If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums’ even though you may only be in school for a year or two,” Calipari wrote. “How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives? Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish.”
Calipari may have been referring to recent comments from five-star 2017 shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, who was offered by Duke and Kentucky in April. Diallo is the No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2017, according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings, and is also considering offers from Connecticut and Kansas, among others.
“Kentucky’s pitch was just the NBA thing,” Diallo told the Courier-Journal‘s Kyle Tucker. “Duke’s pitch was if you come to Duke, you’re going to be set for life. It’s more than just basketball. (Calipari’s) pitch was he gets guys ready for the next level. Look at the numbers: It shows. It’s the best place for you if you want to make it to the NBA.”
Duke and Kentucky may not play in the same conference, but when it comes to recruiting, it’s hard to find bigger rivals. The Wildcats and Blue Devils consistently compete for the most talented players in the country, pitting Krzyzewski and Calipari in a direct battle for the next one-and-done stars.
Both programs certainly offer advantageous connections, but Calipari went on to discuss how he expects his players, in part, to build a network without the help of the coaching staff.
“I want them to be brothers and build their own contacts and Rolodex in life,” Calipari wrote. “We will always be here to help, but they do not need to be beholden to any of us to use our contacts to help them.”
The two coaches will continue to fight over the top prospects in the future, but as for the upcoming season, Calipari thinks his roster could be one of his best defensive units in recent years. As always, there will be an expectation for the Wildcats to make a deep March Madness run.
“Our goals never change from year to year,” Calipari wrote. “My whole focus this year and every year is that we’re playing our best basketball in March and that each individual player is the best version of themselves at the end of the year. That’s simply what we’re trying to do.
“I can’t wait.”