Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
SNY Exclusive: Calipari Expands on Wiggins Recruitment
By BEN BASKIN
Special to ZAGSBLOGNEW YORK — On Friday afternoon, Kentucky coach John Calipari hopped on WFAN in New York and talked college basketball with Mike Francesa. Francesa asked some good questions to the coach of the third-ranked team in the country but, in his inimitable style, rarely allowed Calipari to finish more than a sentence before cutting him off.
For instance, at one point, Francesa asked: “How did Wiggins get to Kansas?”
Calipari began to respond, “Well, I think again we had a whole group of guys and…” but Francesa interrupted him with “Did you recruit? Were you close? You had to be close on Wiggins. You’re close on everybody…How good is Wiggins?”
Wiggins, of course, is Andrew Wiggins, the Kansas freshman and projected No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
It rambled on back and forth for a little before teetering off to Francesa suggesting that Cal show Julius Randle tape of Bob Lanier because he just found out that Randle was a lefty.
Well, after Kentucky outlasted Providence 79-65 in a hard-fought game at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, coach Calipari expanded on his recruitment of the Canadian Wiggins, the No.1 prospect in the class, with SNY.tv.
“We both went after him and [Kansas] got him,” Calipari said exclusively to SNY.tv. “Kids want things for different reasons. I don’t take it personally. I wished him luck.”
Calipari compared the situaton to how he lost Stanley Johnson, the five-star forward from California, to Arizona, as it was well-documented how hard Kentucky went after him. Although it feels as if the Wildcats have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country year in and year out, Calipari noted how even for them it’s never a sure thing when recruiting a player.
“This place isn’t for everybody and not everybody wants [to be here],” Calipari said. “Everybody acts like I get every kid I recruit. It’s so crazy, it’s not true.”
In addition, Calipari bemoaned the fact that he gets labeled as the only coach who has guys go to the NBA after only one year in school. Both Duke and Kansas have increasingly taken more one-and-done type players in recent years.
“And then [people say] I’m the only one that takes one-and-done’s,” Calipari said. “No. I take them and they get out. Other people take them and they maybe just don’t get out, or they stay three years. But we’re all taking the same guys.”
When asked to compare his freshman sensation, Randle, to Wiggins, Calipari reiterated a similar sentiment that he shared on Francesa’s show.
“Randle plays different, they’re totally differnet players,” Calipari said. “But if you had a Wiggins and the kid at Duke [Jabari Parker] combination, that would be crazy.”
**For more stories on Andrew Wiggins, click here.
Follow Ben on Twitter
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.