John Calipari is not the best basketball coach in the collegiate ranks. I think that he’d even be willing to admit as much.
He is, however, the best coach when it comes to running a college program. He knows how to recruit, he knows how to get players to buy into his program, he knows how to get a fan base motivated and he is one of the best when it comes to dealing with media. The marriage of Coach Cal, Big Blue Nation and Kentucky basketball is perfect.
Perhaps what Cal does better than anything else is create spin. If there’s something that he wants to say, a message that he wants to get across, he’s going to make that point regardless of what question he’s asked or what topic he’s discussing. He’s a master at it, and his latest post over at CoachCal.com is the perfect example.
In that post, Cal creates a list of 20 questions that every recruit should be asking of a potential college coach, calling their choice on where to go to college “a business decision, not an emotional one”. And it should come as no surprise to you that Kentucky comes up looking quite favorable when compared to any other program.
Now to be fair, there’s a reason for that. Kentucky has sent 19 players (if you include Enes Kanter) to the NBA in Cal’s five seasons while winning one national title, making another national title game and a third Final Four. When one of college basketball’s best programs is teamed up with college basketball’s best CEO, you are going to get results.
But if you think that these 20 questions were anything other than a promotional post for Kentucky, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The title might as well be “20 Questions That Prove You Should Go To Kentucky”.
Anyway, here are the 20 questions:
1. Does your program offer multi-year (four-year) scholarships?
2. How many players have graduated from your program over the last four to five years?
3. How many players have graduated from your school and gone on to the NBA?
4. How many players have come back to finish school after they have left to pursue other dreams? Who pays for it?
5. How many of your players were insured through the disability program last season? If none were, why not?
6. What is your team grade-point average?
7. Where does your Academic Progress Rate retention rank among other schools?
8. What type of media training do you offer?
9. What kind of social media training program do you have in place? What are your social media policies?
10. How many double-figure scorers have you averaged in the last four to five years? If you only have one or two a year, what does that mean for me?
11. Have you ever coached anyone like me? If so, who?
12. How many McDonald’s All-Americans have you coached? How many of them went on to the NBA?
13. How have your teams fared with three or four McDonald’s All-Americans on the same team?
14. How many freshmen have you started within the last four to five years?
15. How many draft picks have you had over the last five years? How many drafted were not McDonald’s All-Americans? How many of the total were first-rounders and were any of them No. 1 draft picks during that time?
16. How many of those players have gone on to make the NBA All-Rookie team?
17. How many games will my family be able to watch on national television?
18. How many of your home games are sold out? How many of your road games are sold out?
19. How have you done in postseason play? Any Final Fours?
Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.
Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.
The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.
Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.
The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.
When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.
Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.
The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.
Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.
“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”
Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.
Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season
Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.
Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.
With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.
In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.
Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.
The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.
Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.
UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.
Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.
Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.
With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.