John Calipari Rips Duke's Recruiting Pitch After Zion Williamson Commitment

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2018

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 20:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team against the Florida Gators during the game at Rupp Arena on January 20, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari threw major shade at Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski after Duke landed highly touted 2018 recruit Zion Williamson.

"I don't sell, 'When you come here, the university and the state will take care of you for the rest of your life,'" Calipari said, per Kentucky Sports Radio. "You may buy that, and I've got some great property and some swampland in Florida to sell you too."

SEC Country's Kyle Tucker shared more of Calipari's comments on the matter:

"Every one of us in this country is based on you've gotta take care of yourself. And then when you make it, you make sure that you're helping [others]. And along the way you bring other people with you. And that's what we're trying to do, just give these guys the best opportunity. We're not trying to say this university or this state will take care of you the rest of your life. There's no socialism here. This stuff is, 'You've gotta go do it and we're gonna help you do it.' Some [recruits] like that. Some don't like it."

Tucker noted how Calipari was likely alluding to comments Wildcats redshirt freshman Hamidou Diallo made while he was being recruited during the spring of 2016. Diallo contrasted the respective pitches Kentucky and Duke had made him.

Whereas Calipari and his staff emphasized how many of his former players have excelled in the NBA, Krzyzewski took an approach that focused on life beyond basketball.

"Duke's pitch was if you come to Duke, you're going to be set for life," Diallo said, per Tucker. "It's more than just basketball."

Williamson echoed that sentiment in explaining why he selected Duke over Kentucky.

"It was always more than basketball with Coach K," Williamson said, per the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler. "That basketball can stop bouncing for you at any time. If basketball was to end for me tomorrow, I would know I'm in good hands at Duke University."

It's probably fair to say Calipari's criticism of Duke and Krzyzewski stemmed partly from envy about the fact the Blue Devils not only secured Williamson's commitment but have also assembled the strongest 2018 class in college basketball.

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Williamson is the No. 3 player overall and No. 1 power forward. He joins a group that includes R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish—small forwards ranked first and second in the class—and point guard Tre Jones, who's also the best player at his position.

While Kentucky was once considered the pre-eminent destination for one-and-done recruits with NBA aspirations, that title has fallen to Duke.

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