Barack Obama, John Calipari

John Calipari and Kentucky a perfect match


With the focus of the basketball watching world on the NBA Playoffs and the upcoming NBA Draft, college basketball tends to take a back seat to … well … everything in the month of June.

That’s why the late spring is such a great time to put together conversation pieces like the one Eamonn Brennan of rolled out on Thursday. Brennan put together a list of the top ten coaching jobs in college basketball and, frankly, I don’t have a huge problem with any of it. The top six are, more or less, a tie for the No. 1 spot; the six blue bloods (North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Indiana and Duke) are undoubtedly the six best jobs in the business.

Brennan has UCLA in the fourth spot, and while I would probably flip-flop the Bruins and the Hoosiers on my list, it really isn’t worth contesting his logic. I’d also make minor changes to the rest of the list (Louisville higher, Ohio State lower, Michigan State higher, Arizona lower, etc.), but again, there is nothing unreasonable about this list.

But there is one point here that needs to be made, and I think that it is inarguable: there is no coach in the country that is better suited to the job that he is in than John Calipari is to being the head coach at Kentucky.

It is a perfect fit. He’s media savvy, he has his finger on the overactive pulse of Big Blue Nation, he’s the best recruiter in the country and he’s a good enough coach to live up to the demanding expectations of the fanbase. He’s on the verge of building one of the most unique dynasties in the history of sports — How many teams have had continued success with this amount of roster turnover? — at a place where few, if any, coaches would be able to have that kind of success.

Brennan’s right. The “UNC family” and the resulting association with Jordan and the Jordan Brand makes the Tar Heels the best coaching job in the country.

But there is no better coaching match than John Calipari and the University of Kentucky.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
Leave a comment

While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

Getty Images
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.