John Calipari has as recently as January denied having any interest in leaving Kentucky for the NBA.
You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 11, 2016
Yet, here we are again, with speculation to the contrary. In CBS Sports’ anonymous survey of more than 110 Division I coaches, 16 percent of them believe Calipari will be the next to follow in the footsteps of Billy Donovan, Brad Stevens and Rick Pitino (well, for a moment there).
“Calipari wants to do it,” one coach told CBS Sports. “But he wants big money, total control and the chance to win big immediately. And I just don’t know if anybody in the NBA is ever going to be willing to give him that.”
Calipari doesn’t lead the pack. More coaches predict that UConn’s Kevin Ollie (20 percent) and Kansas’ Bill Self (17 percent) will be the next to jump the ranks.
“I think he learned a lot from his first gig as an NBA coach,” another told CBS Sports. “He is coaching and recruiting NBA talent and treating them like pros. He would be a players’ coach. The Xs and Os would concern me.”
Perhaps more surprisingly than Calipari appearing near the top of the list is that the one other SEC coach with NBA experience was jettisoned to “Other coaches who received at least three or more votes.” It seems many of Avery Johnson’s peers see Alabama as more than a pit stop for him. Although one coach included him to CBS Sports as an “obvious throw-in.”
Other coaches listed include Villanova’s Jay Wright (16 percent), Texas’ Shaka Smart (9 percent) and Virginia’s Tony Bennett (8 percent). Sean Miller (Arizona) and Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) from the Pac-12 join Johnson in the also received votes category.