If there’s one thing we’ve learned about John Calipari over the last 15 years, it’s that he’s not afraid to take a different approach than the rest of the sport. With the emergence of the transfer portal and name, image, and likeness (NIL), college basketball is experiencing a shift towards older players who stay in school longer. However, Calipari is choosing to go against the grain and build a roster with mostly freshmen.
While Calipari has brought in a few experienced veterans through the transfer portal in recent years, this season he is returning to his roots with a roster made up of mostly freshmen. This is a bold move considering that every other team in college basketball is focused on getting older and more experienced.
Coaches like Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes emphasize the importance of having older players, but they also acknowledge Calipari’s ability to coach and develop young talent. Eric Musselman even goes as far as saying that Calipari is the best coach of young players in the history of college basketball.
Some question whether a team led by freshmen can succeed at the highest level, but Calipari’s counterparts in the SEC believe that if anyone can do it, it’s him. The fact that Calipari consistently brings in top recruits and future NBA lottery picks gives him confidence that his team can still win games despite their youth.
Overall, building a roster with this many freshmen is seen as a bold move, but no one envies Calipari’s task. It requires patience and the ability to help young players improve day by day. However, with his track record and talent on the team, Calipari remains optimistic about the potential of his young players.
Rick Barnes, who has had success against Kentucky, acknowledges the challenge of coaching a team with so many young players and emphasizes the need for patience. However, he also recognizes Calipari’s coaching abilities and the talent on the team.
Despite the uncertainty, Calipari is confident in his young players and believes they have the right attitude and competitiveness to succeed. He emphasizes the importance of having a “dog” mentality and the team’s practices have been highly competitive.
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Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.