John Calipari’s summer news conference. (From UK Sports Video)
John Calipari transcript (May 15)
John Calipari met with the local media for the first time since the end of the season Wednesday, and as you might expect had plenty to say. See below for a full transcript of his comments:
It’s not good to see all you guys again. Wanted to do this summer press conference to kind of catch up on stuff. I know people are asking me all the time, ‘how are you feeling about things, and last year, and this year and the players, and let me — you all know, when we won the national title, we did that tour, I had to do a thing in New York, and after that it was over. Rear-view mirror was taken out. Moving forward. I would tell you the same with this season. You learn from each season. For me, there will be a time to smell the roses. It’s just not right now. So you move on.
Then James Young gives you that 6-7 wing who flat can shoot the ball. Some of the issues…Again, we shot a high percentage. When you looked at our numbers from last year, our defensive numbers, our shot-blocking numbers, our offensive percentages, you would say we should have won more games. But, we weren’t as skilled as we needed to be, especially at crunch time. We weren’t as skilled. We weren’t as physically dominating as my teams in the past. This team should be.
Derek Willis, 6-9, 6-10, long, skilled big man from the state. Again, where his game goes…He wanted the challenge of this. ‘I want to go every day against players this good to see how I can be.’ Isn’t that the greatest part of this? I mean it’s not, ‘Well, I want to go here so I can be the guy and the only man. I want to go here and be challenged. How good can I be? And the only way I’m going to find it out is to go against the best. I’m going to go against the best every day.’ Well, he’s got a chance of really being good and being special.
Julius Randle, truly a hard worker who can play multiple positions, who can play inside and out. He’s a beast. He’s an alpha beast who will drive the team. Has a little bit of Micheal (Kidd-Gilchrist) in him, in a different way. In my mind, there are good players out there, he’s as good as any of them.
Marcus Lee averaged a triple-double for the season. Like 11 blocks, like 15 rebounds and 18 points. Pogo stick, active, high energy, 6-10, 6-11, long armed. Another player who, again, wanted to be here. These kids all wanted to be here. This is where..They wanted the challenge of this, and they wanted to do it together. So when you look at Marcus Lee, you say he could have gone somewhere…He didn’t want to go. He wanted to come here and take on this challenge.
Dakari Johnson, I watched him two summers ago folks, and I’m going to tell you, he had a knee issue and I looked at him and said, ‘I’m not so sure.’ Then I watched him a little bit later, and I said ‘Wait a minute.’ Then I watched him later in the season, could not believe it. The line of improvement for Dakari is like that. He’s a kid that will get up at six in the morning and work out. He’s a great student. He does all the things, and he wants to be better. He was on a team that there were times he wasn’t getting the ball. Never said one thing, ran that court, posted up. When he did get it, he did good things. He’s got great skills and his seven-foot tall.
Dominique Hawkins, a young man from in state that just kind of blew me away with his will to win, his temperament on the court, his demeanor in helping his team win a championship. You always want to coach guys who understand. By winning a state championship and being down 16 two games, it shows what a tough mentality. And with what I just went through, I wanted a tough point guard. I wanted one more tough, physical — how bout this — not just fighting, physical tough, how bout mentally tough? How bout not break down? How bout, ‘I’m bringing it and I’m not afraid to be 16 down and it has no effect on me?’ That’s what I saw in Dominique and why we recruited him.
Andrew Harrison, my hope is by the end of the year, he’s just like some of the other point guards we’ve had. You look at him and say, hey he can do things that other point guards can’t do at his size, his scoring ability. And both of them are terrific drivers, which kind of tells you that we’re going to go back to a lot more dribble-drive. I’ve talked to a couple of my friends. We’re talking about dribble-drive into pick-and-roll, pick-and-roll, into dribble-drive, because of the team.
Aaron Harrison, big guard, can score the ball, should be and will be and is expected to be and will be demanded to be a lock-down defender. With his size, with his athleticism, one we can play a big zone. Two, we should be able to press because we’re going to be so big with our guard play and whoever we put up there. But it will start with Aaron. We know what he can do scoring the ball, but we want him to other to do other things and again, help define his game.