John Calipari: What Will Become of the Kentucky Wildcats Next Season?
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There is an old Irish Proverb that goes, "Hope is the physician of misery."
John Calipari might be the most hopeful coach in college basketball today. Despite rounding success at three different programs, leading each to a Final Four appearance, Calipari has failed to win a national Title.
Year in and year out, Calipari loses freshman talent to the riches of the NBA and time and again, is resorted to retooling and rebuilding for his next one-year run.
Last season, Calipari lead a team that featured four starting freshman to the Elite Eight before falling to West Virginia. The freshman group included the eventual No. 1 and No. 5 picks in the 2010 NBA Draft in guard John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
Despite losing his entire 2009 freshman recruits to the NBA, the 2011 Wildcats were rebuilt on three highly touted freshman: Guards Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb and forward Terrance Jones.
Kentucky however, wasn't expected to make much noise in the 2011 season due to a young and inexperienced team lead by Calipari's new freshman class that finished the regular season 22-8 and ranked No. 20 in the polls.
The Wildcats however, rallied for six straight wins and captured the SEC Title en route to the No. 4 seed in the East Region for the March Madness Tournament.
Should Freshman Guard Brandon Knight stay or go to the NBA?
During their March Madness run, Brandon Knight hit two game-winning shots and poured in a career high 30-points in a revenge win for Calipari against West Virginia. Doron Lamb hit 8-of-13 three-pointers, and Terrance Jones averaged 11 points a game and snagged 15 rebounds against Connecticut.
The "under-the-radar" Wildcats knocked off both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the East Region and were in position to possibly tie or win with a last-second shot over the Huskies in the Final Four matchup.
With the Wildcats magical and unexpected run to the Final Four over, the next question will be what will become of Calipari and Kentucky?
Were Knight, Lamb and Jones to stay and be teamed up with Calipari's new crop of freshman, Kentucky would surely be the No. 1 favorite entering the 2011 season to win it all.
Forwards Anthony Davis (No. 2), Michael Gilchrist (No. 3) and guard Marquis Teague (No. 8) give Calipari and Kentucky three players in ESPNU's Top 100 College Recruits, the most of any school in the Top 10.
Although Calipari has always encouraged his players to enter the NBA rather than stay in school, it is quite intriguing to think what kind of team Kentucky could field next season if Brandon Knight and junior DeAndre Liggins among others were to stay.
Regardless of what happens, one thing is quite certain. No matter what, Coach John Calipari will be successful. He always has been.
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