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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