Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the Best and Worst of John Calipari's NBA Talent

Brooke Jordan@DJ_BJ08Correspondent IJuly 24, 2012

Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the Best and Worst of John Calipari's NBA Talent

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    John Calipari is one of the most respected and one of the most criticized coaches in college basketball.

    Everywhere he has coached, Calipari has received a lot of unnecessary press, and Kentucky fans know exactly how this feels. The national media will do anything to take a jab at the UK coach and try to knock him and his players off their feet.

    However, it cannot be overlooked that Coach Cal is one of the most successful coaches in the game. His ability to recruit the top-rated talent and groom them to be successful at the next level is without question. A clear example is the drafting of eight UK players in the 2012 NBA Draft.

    Every once in a while, a player will slip through the cracks and not find themselves at a high level. They are like the rotten apple in the bunch that somehow, despite Calipari's incredible mentoring, flopped at the NBA level.

    Here is a list of some of John Calipari's best and worst NBA talent from his days in Lexington at the University of Kentucky.

Best: John Wall

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    When John Calipari became the head coach of Kentucky in 2009, he began a new era. This statement was made with the commitment of the nation's top-ranked point guard, John Wall.

    Wall not only served as the answer for Calipari to the many questions he now faced, but also as the stamp that put Kentucky basketball back on the map. Of course, his time in Lexington did not go without its issues, but with Coach Cal's strong leadership, Wall was able to silence his non-believers and become the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.

    The Washington Wizards have not exactly had the best records in Wall's two seasons, but that has not stopped him from quickly showcasing his talent. In his career so far in D.C., the 21-year old is averaging 16.3 points per game and 8.2 assists per game, and he has been voted to the "Rising Stars" squad both years.

    Lucky for Washington, Wall is not anywhere near his peak or potential. If they can surround the promising point guard with other talent, the Wizards should see their numbers head in a more positive direction.

    Until then, it will continue to be the one man John Wall show, and there is no one else more proud of his success than John Calipari.

Worst: Daniel Orton

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    During his time as a Kentucky Wildcat, Daniel Orton never saw eye-to-eye with head coach John Calipari.

    As soon as he declared for the NBA Draft, he packed and left Lexington. Orton was viewed in a negative light and thought to have betrayed his teammates and saw his commitment being called into question. He did not complete his courses that he should have, which hurt both the team's overall GPA and his individual reputation.

    Since being selected by the Orlando Magic in 2010, Daniel Orton has struggled to find playing time and found himself sitting behind All-Star center Dwight Howard. Towards the end of the season, Orton played his way onto the hardwood as Howard went down with an injury.

    With his low numbers, some would certainly consider Orton a bust. However, if he can actually get along with his coach and receive some proper guidance, he will hopefully be able to find himself and begin heading down a path of success.

Best: DeMarcus Cousins

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    When Coach Calipari left Memphis to go to Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins revoked his commitment to the Tigers and followed.

    He was one of Calipari's first recruits that signaled the new Calipari era and the return of Kentucky basketball. Throughout his UK career, Cousins exhibited a lot of up-and-down behavior. One day, he was arguably one of the best college basketball players at the time, and the next day, he was considered one of the whiniest and a "flopper."

    DeMarcus Cousins is a true example of John Calipari's impact on his players. He was able to turn Cousins' attitude around, settle him down, and turn him into the player he continues to be today.

    In his two seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Cousins averages nearly a double-double, with 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has flourished into one of the most improved players in the league and is beginning to solidify himself as one of the best up-and-coming big men.

    While his immaturity every once in a while squirts out on the court, for the most part, the Kings should be thanking John Calipari for reeling in Cousins' emotions and channeling them into his passion for the game and his incredible skills instead of technical fouls.

Worst: Enes Kanter

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    The one event that will always mark John Calipari's tenure as Kentucky's basketball coach is the recruiting saga of Enes Kanter.

    Kanter was the top recruit in Kentucky's 2010 class. However, being from Turkey, they do not play for high school teams and go straight to national and professional teams. This led to several other issues that eventually led to the ineligibility of Kanter and early entrance into the NBA. 

    Because of his premature entrance into the league, Kanter has never received the mentoring or time to develop they he should have. He is playing about 13.2 minutes per game for the Utah Jazz, but only scoring about 4.6 points.

    If Kanter receives the leadership he should have in college, then he can maybe burst onto the scene like he did before his storied ending.