James visit signals Cats are back

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

I'll give the man credit. I think John Calipari could sell ice to Siberians. UK's coach is putting college basketball on notice: the Wildcats are back and in a big way.

I'll give the man credit.  I think John Calipari could sell ice to Siberians.

UK's coach is putting college basketball on notice: the Wildcats are back and in a big way.

Witness...  Calipari went about the business of recruiting the nation's top-ranked recruiting class.  In just a few short months, Calipari sold John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Jon Hood, Daniel Orton and Darnell Dodson on UK.  Some are saying this class is the greatest recruiting class EVER.  The Dribble Drive, playing time and Wildcat tradition were cited as factors in their decisions to wear the blue and white.

Witness... the man who set the NCAA record with four consecutive 30-win seasons considers China the next frontier.  Calipari is cultivating relationships, talent and fans in a country of 1.3 billion people.  The UK brand is front and center.  Calipari wants to bring players and coaches to Kentucky, which would give more Chinese reason to pay attention to the Cats.

Witness... Calipari has made the rounds, doing interviews on national television and radio.  Calipari seemingly loves the spotlight and is glib and engaging when he speaks.  Ever compared to Rick Pitino, Calipari one-ups the Louisville coach with a unique ability to relate to Kentucky fans on a personal level.

Witness... the Internet has become Calipari's playground.  Already, he has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter.  Soon, the coach will launch his web site, which he says will be unlike any other.  Here's a guy who's not afraid to embrace technology and find ways to promote his team.

The coup de gras, though, was the arrival of royalty on Friday.  LeBron James, the NBA's reigning MVP, and the iconic figure of this generation of young players, walked into the Joe Craft Center to visit with his friend, Calipari. 

Just last week, Calipari spoke with James at the LeBron James Skills Camp in Akron.  Calipari quickly posted a picture of the two basketball superstars on his Twitter page. 

James flew into Lexington on his way to an event in Mississippi, finding time to tour the Craft Center and surprise the UK players, who weren't told of James' plans to visit.  The King likened his visit to that of a new recruit, taking in all the sights afforded some of the best high school players in the country.

Young players will take notice -- LeBron James is a John Calipari fan, which by association means, James is a UK fan.

Calipari has proven he can coach -- between 2005–2009, his Memphis Tigers won 134 games, an NCAA record.  Calipari now is showing the Big Blue Nation that he's equally at home as one of college basketball's ultimate salesmen.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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  • by Johnnie Location: Lancaster on Aug 21, 2009 at 10:44 PM
    Lebron James visits UK. That is awesome !! Coach Cal is hitting on all cylinders- He is the perfect match for the BEST FANS in COLLEGE BASKETBALL. UK back on TOP- All you doubters take heed !!
  • by Richie Location: Pikeville on Jul 21, 2009 at 09:12 PM
    I wonder how long it'll take Mr. Calipari to get UK into another mess with the NC2A infractions committee. I'll take the under on five years.
  • by PR Location: Ashland on Jul 20, 2009 at 03:51 PM
    Coach Cal takes a lot of heat from fans of other programs but I think a lot of it is jealously. UK hit the jackpot with this hire because you can't win the big race without the horses and this man is collecting a stable of stallions that have winner written all over them.
  • by Duke Location: Louisville, Ky on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:08 AM
    Big UK fan since Billy Ray Lickert. Most excited since the "Air Pair" were here w/ Ricky P. Way to go Coach Cal!
  • by JB Location: Boyle County on Jul 19, 2009 at 07:29 AM
    Great job coach, keep it up and you will have all the followers you could imagine.
  • by Mark Location: Louisville on Jul 19, 2009 at 03:17 AM
    He is exactly what UK fans needed at UK. One of the message board members at quickly growing Dynasty Defenders at dynastydefenders.com spoke with UK recently and gave him the skinnny on DD. I would look for Calipari to possibly be posting to the fans there soon.
  • by Jim G. Location: Clayton CA on Jul 18, 2009 at 07:41 PM
    I had given up following closely the program with the other coach there and now with Coach Calipari it's amazing the turnaround. He really is a great recruiter and the young basketball players love him and that's what really counts.


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