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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.
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Friday / February 22.
  • At Big Blue Madness, John Calipari pitches recruits, says he wants to ‘keep going’ at Kentucky

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    During his 10th Big Blue Madness appearance on Friday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari addressed his future coaching plans and made his annual pitch to another loaded crop of recruits on hand.

    Calipari, 59, is 273-64 (.810) in nine seasons at Kentucky. He has coached 35 NBA Draft picks there, including 26 first-rounders.

    “I’ll be honest with you, at one point I thought 10 years was enough,” he told the crowd. “Coach Hall told me it’s a 10-year job and I believed him. But when I look at this team, when I look at this group, it makes me want to keep going.

    “I wake up every day excited about coaching my team.”

    Asked prior to Calipari’s speech how long he could keep going, Hall cracked to ESPN’s Rich Hollenberg, “I think he’ll stay as long as he keeps making $8 million a year.”

    Calipari’s current contract runs through 2024 and he earns $8 million a year.

    Calipari also directed additional comments toward a loaded group of recruits, including 2019 Vernon Carey Jr. Unofficial visitors included 2020s R.J. HamptonJalen JohnsonJaemyn Brakefield, A.J. Hoggard, and 2021’s Terrence ClarkeJ.T. Thor, and Joshua Primo.

    Carey Jr., the 6-foot-10 center from University (FL) School who cut his list to five in May, took his first official visit to Michigan State (Feb. 10) and has visits planned to Duke (Oct. 19), Miami (Oct. 26), and North Carolina (Nov. 2). He also took an unofficial visit to Miami last month (Sept. 27).

    All three 2019 Kentucky commits Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Dontaie Allen also attended Big Blue Madness.

    Calipari, who has previously said his former players were making $1.5 billion in NBA contracts, made his annual NBA pitch to the recruits.

    “We’ve had players average less than 10 points and go in the lottery,” he said. “We’ve had the No. 1 player in the Draft averaged 21 minutes per game. We’ve had a player and I’ll mention his name, Devin Booker, come off the bench and be a lottery pick. And not just a lottery pick. He scored 70 points in an NBA game.

    “And then he Tweeted, ‘Coach, would you have started me on Senior Night?’

    “Think about what those guys sacrificed for the team but gained for themselves.”

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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.