Is John Calipari Bad for College Basketball?

Cleavie WonderCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2010

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 27:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the east regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 27, 2010 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Kentucky basketball program is in the process of taking the student out of the student athlete equation.  John Calipari sees no reason to sugarcoat the truth.  If you're coming to Kentucky you're coming to play basketball and for no other reason.  Not quality of life, not the college experience, and certainly not academics.

Calipari's recruiting pitch goes something like this, "If you can keep your eligibility for one semester I'll send you to the pros.  No one is going to ask you to stay or make you feel guilty for leaving.  We all know the deal, one and done.  That's what I can do for you.  Here's the number for the guy that will help out with the exams.  Be careful, if you get caught I don't know anything about it."

We all know Kentucky will be on probation before the end of the season, but is Calipari's approach really that off base?  Is he the realist while we are the hypocrites?  I agree he's doing what the players want and if the end result is an NBA career then everybody wins. 

The problem is most players won't play professional basketball very long (if at all) and they will be left with no other skills to offer the world when their career is over.  The UK model leaves kids hollow, one dimensional, and under developed.  Not everyone is going to be the next John Wall.  Doesn't he owe those kids an apology?

Tony Wroten Jr., a top high school basketball prospect, announced a few days ago that Kentucky didn't make the short list of schools he would consider attending next year.  This gives me hope that some players are immune to the Calipari rhetoric and see past the UK facade.  The Kentucky basketball program is an AAU all star team on steroids. 

The 2009-2010 team included five first round picks, two lottery picks, and the No. 1 overall pick in John Wall.  They all left as freshmen.  The incoming freshmen class has four of the top 30 players in the country.  As we speak Kentucky already has commitments from the top point guard, power forward, and small forward in the country for 2011. 

I know coach Cal is charming, but Damn!  Does this sound even remotely possible?  The last school to do something this spectacular was the Fab Five at Michigan and they only did it once.  We later found out that boosters paid the players. 

Kentucky has recruited a Fab Five-caliber class three years in a row.  Something is not right here.  Until the NCAA sanctions hit it's all speculation, but I'm just glad someone stood up to coach Cal.  Good for you, Tony.