Over the course of his career at Kentucky, John Calipari has kept the basketball program at contender status. Any season that doesn’t end with a trip to the Final Four is seen as a disappointment.
Calipari might not be the most loved coach in college basketball because of his consistent dominance. Yet, the legendary coach deserves respect and appreciation from fans around the country.
ESPN writer Myron Medcalf ranked the most underappreciated coaches in college basketball history. He broke his rankings into different categories, such as coaches that never won a title and coaches that reside in weaker conferences.
Medcalf also made a list for coaches that are taken for granted due to their constant success. As you’d expect, Calipari found himself in the top spot for this particular category.
The popular assessment of Calipari at Kentucky is this: He gets multiple five-star kids each year so his job is easy. But that take belies reality. Only two freshman-led collectives have won national titles (Kentucky in 2012, Duke in 2015) in the one-and-done era. Calipari’s ability to recruit a fleet of NBA prospects each season and mold that group into a contender is an amazing feat. With teams mostly led by teenagers at Kentucky, Calipari has won fewer than 26 games only once (2012-13). Plus, he’s backed by a fan base that expects Final Four runs each season. Calipari never attempts to minimize the high expectations. He acknowledges them and, most seasons, meets them. The critics claim he should have more titles, but that’s a shortsighted take that ignores the challenge he embraces each season.
Kentucky will enter next season with a deep roster that actually features a few veterans.
Perhaps another ring for Calipari would make fans appreciate his outstanding tenure in Lexington.