John Calipari Says He's an 'Overrated' Recruiter: 'We Don't Get Every Kid'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2018

Kentucky coach John Calipari talks to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against VMI in Lexington, Ky., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. Kentucky won 92-82. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

John Calipari has been known to be candid with his players. It seems he's not averse to being harsh on himself as well.

Calipari described himself as an "overrated" recruiter Tuesday after Kentucky lost out on James Wiseman to Memphis.

"I think I'm overrated as a recruiter," Calipari told reporters. "We've had kids that made the decision to come here, and it's played out well for almost all of them. My thing is, I want to be able to sleep at night. I want to make sure I'm telling the truth. I want to make sure I'm sticking with guys.

"We don't get every kid. We get the ones we are supposed to get. It just kind of plays out that way, and it always has."

Wiseman is the No. 1 player in the 2019 class, per 247Sports. The 7-footer had been considered a favorite to be Penny Hardaway's centerpiece in his 2019 class for some time, though Kentucky was considered another favorite.

The Wildcats landed 5-star small forward Kahlil Whitney, the No. 8 prospect, in August but are not considered favorites for any higher-ranked players. 247Sports ranks Kentucky's class sixth in the nation. Memphis' is 11th.

While Calipari dominated recruiting upon his arrival in Lexington, he's fallen behind Duke's Mike Krzyzewski in recent years. The Blue Devils have had the nation's top recruiting class ahead of the No. 2 Wildcats in each of the last three seasons.

"It's not changed my approach to this," Calipari said. "Maybe because of social media and the video games and the stuff, and there's not as much on the playgrounds and the pickup and the fight—maybe they do want to hear that it's gonna be easier."

He added: "I gotta be able to sleep at night knowing that I'm being honest, I'm not embellishing: 'Here's what it is.' I'm not saying that against anybody else; everybody recruits the way they recruit. But you've got good programs and good coaches, and that's why we don't get everybody we recruit. We're not the only ones out there trying to get good players and trying to help kids."