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UK Notebook: Coach John Calipari completes successful first decade at helm of Kentucky

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

John Calipari just completed his first decade at Kentucky and has enjoyed a memorable run since he was hired in 2009.

The Kentucky coach led the Wildcats to a 30-7 record, the fifth time Kentucky has recorded 30 or more victories during his tenure in Lexington. During that same span, Kentucky has won 31 games in the NCAA Tournament, made four Final Four appearances, made the Elite Eight seven times and eight Sweet Sixteen appearances as coach of the Wildcats. He won a national title in 2012 and was runner-up in 2014.

Kentucky coach John Calipari has recorded 31 victories in the NCAA Tournament during his tenure as coach of the Wildcats (Photo by Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today)

Calipari surpassed late coach Adolph Rupp for the most victories un the NCAA Tournament and during the regular season, Calipari passed retired coach Joe B. Hall for second place on the school’s all-time wins list.


As has been the norm, Kentucky’s roster will undergo a few changes next season.

Overall five underclassmen declared for the NBA Draft. Gone are PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, while EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards opted to test the waters and could return next year. Reid Travis and Johnny David graduated, meaning as many as seven players could be missing from this year’s squad.

During a 10-game period from Jan 22-Feb. 23, Washington averaged 21 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, a run that included 19 3-pointers.

The five underclassmen accounted for 58.7 percent of the team’s total minutes lats year, 65.4 percent of the team’s scoring, 83 percent of the team’s blocks and 53.2 steals.

Kentucky has produced 35 Draft picks during the past nine years, including No. 1 selections and 19 lottery picks.


For the second year in a row, Kentucky will welcome a fifth-year senior with the addition of Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina, along with freshmen Dontaie Allen, Keion Brooks, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney.

Also back next season are sophomore guards Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley.

Hagans, one of the top defensive players in the Southeastern Conference, started 30 games and fished out 160 assists. Ge scored 7.7 points per contest. He added steals and knocked down 14 3-pointers.

Quickley scored 5.2 points per outing and knocked down 30 shots from long range, including six during the postseason. He drained three in a win over Alabama in the SEC Tournament.

Board work

Kentucky finished the second ranked fourth in the nation in rebounding with a plus 9.4 margin on the glass.

Three players pulled down an average of 5.9 rebounds per game and two had 7.2 or more rebounds per game. Richards had the highest rebounding total with 19 rebounds in a win over SIU, tying Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the most rebounds in a game under Calipari.

Looking ahead

The Wildcats will play Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden, followed by games against Kansas in 2020 (Chicago), Duke in 2021 (New York) and the Spartans again in 2022 in New York.

Kentucky also plays in the CBS Sports Classic and will take on North Carolina on Dec. 22 in Chicago and Ohio State on Dec. 21 in Las Vegas.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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