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.
Kentucky Promotes Joel Justus to Assistant Coach, Says He Will Focus on Younger Recruits
With the recent passing of John Robic’s father, Kentucky coach John Calipari has officially elevated Joel Justus to assistant coach and said Justus will primarily focus on recruiting younger players.
Calipari also said he did not envision his program “offering scholarships to freshmen and sophomores.”
Justus has been out on the road recruiting in a temporary capacity since June.
Justus, for example, scouted Class of 2019 stars Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis of the Ranney (N.J.) School and Team Rio all summer, and also recently hit an open gym at Hudson (N.J.) Catholic for Class of 2018 guys Jahvon Quinerly, Louis King and Luther Muhammad.
Calipari broke it down on his CoachCal.com website:
“Joel’s been with us for two years now and has brought a lot to the program. His analytics strengths are great and he’s got great ideas. Now this gives him an opportunity to be involved in the recruiting. Seeing him on the road recruiting over the last couple of months showed me that we need to give him an opportunity to do his thing. I think this could be one of his strengths. His ability to connect with players and spend his full time and effort, especially on underclassmen, will give us a head start in what we’re doing.
“I had my staff organized in that we were all recruiting older players because we were recruiting a new team each year. It’s hard to get ahead of yourself when you’re trying to sign a current class and replace as many guys as we normally do, but this temporary move opened up my eyes in that we probably had it wrong. We need one guy focused on the younger guys. We became so fixated on trying to replace players each year that we weren’t touching some of the younger kids and were coming in late. Because of that, just about every other program has been ahead of us on underclassmen recruiting, and it has affected some of the kids who we weren’t able to touch until later in the process. That’s my fault. I believe Joel will greatly help in that area and fills a void.
“Now with that said, I don’t see us offering scholarships to freshmen and sophomores. Ultimately what we do is different than other schools, and if you really want to come here, in most cases you’re going to have to let the process run. I just don’t want to be put in a position where I’m walking in on a kid for the first time having been defined for two years by four other programs who are panicked by the prospect of us getting involved. I want to make sure we’re on top of every young kid in the country, especially the ones that dream about Kentucky. That will be part of Joel’s primary focus, and he’s ready for it.”
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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.