UK: James Young to enter this year’s NBA Draft

Kentucky guard James Young, who made the Southeastern Conference all-freshman team this past season, will enter this year’s NBA Draft, UK announced Thursday.

“My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Young said in a statement. “I’ve learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from Coach Cal (John Calipari) and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support. I can’t say enough about my teammates; the journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives.  I would like to thank the best fans in the country, the Big Blue Nation, and I hope you guys will continue to support me as I move on. I will always bleed blue. Succeed and Proceed!”

The final three words in the statement are the new label for so-called one-and-done players that Calipari proposed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He said the label one-and-done had a negative connotation.

Young, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., led UK with  82 three-point baskets. That was the seventh most in a single season in program history and second most by a UK freshman. He shot 42.6 percent from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament.

Young averaged 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the Final Four en route to Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.

“I’m excited for James and his family and the decision he’s come to,” Calipari said in a statement. “From day one, the NBA people who came to our practices in the pre-season raved about him. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four. Whatever team drafts James is not only getting a superb athlete, they are getting the ultimate teammate.”

Young was named to  the All-SEC Second-Team. He scored 10 or more points in 30 games.

Earlier this week, UK announced that Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the UK team next season.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26.

Cal: No answers yet on which players will stay or leave

Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested Thursday that everyone will have to wait to know which players will enter this year’s NBA Draft and which will return to UK next season.

In meeting with reporters, Calipari said he broached the subject in Arlington, Texas, site of the Final Four, to eight players.

A couple players said they did need to talk to the coach about the subject, which implied that those players had decided to return. “A majority” wanted to go through the process of gauging their NBA profile and consider entering the draft, Calipari said.

The UK coach said he spoke to about 19 NBA general managers. Among the things he learned was that one of the players who was not interested in the draft could be a first-round pick, and perhaps a lottery pick.

Calipari said he had a follow-up meeting with the player and his mother.

“I just told him, ‘I need you to know what you’re passing up by coming back,’” Calipari said. ”What I told him and his mother, I’ve got to live with myself. I told him, I want you to come back. I think  you need to come back. But you need to know what’s out there.”

As he said on several TV and radio appearances this week promoting his new book, Players First; Coaching from the Inside Out, Calipari said the decisions had to be personal decisions and not based on a perceived effect on UK or the basketball program.

Calipari asked reporters to raise their hands if they were surprised that Willie Cauley-Stein decided to return to UK next season.

In explaining his reasons for returning, Cauley-Stein said he was in no hurry to leave, liked going to school, would get closer to a degree, needed to grow as a player and wanted to try to complete a run to a national championship, Calipari said.

“That’s a good answer for me,” Calipari said.

Cauley-Stein has undergone ankle surgery and will need about two months of rehabilitation.

“Best doctor in the world to do it,” Calipari said. “A procedure that is done a lot. So he’ll be fine.”

Cal plans in-state book tour beginning Thursday

UK announced Tuesday that Kentucky Coach John Calipari plans an in-state tour to promote his new book, Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out.

The tour begins Thursday in Lexington.

Here are the dates, times and sites:

Date Area Store Address Start time
April 17 Lexington Joseph-Beth Booksellers 161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY 40503 6 p.m.
April 18 Louisville Barnes & Noble 4100 Summit Plaza Dr., Louisville, KY 40241 6 p.m.
April 19 Nicholasville Sam’s Club 103 Bryant Dr., Nicholasville, KY 40356 2 p.m.
April 21 Cincinnati Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2785 Dixie Hwy., Crestview, KY 41017 6 p.m.
April 22 Bowling Green Barnes & Noble 1680 Campbell Ln., Bowling Green, KY 42104 6 p.m. CT
*April 24 Louisville Carmichael’s Bookstore 2117 Payne St., Louisville, KY 40206 7 p.m.
April 29 Lexington Barnes & Noble 1932 Pavilion Way, Lexington, KY 40509 6 p.m.

UK: Cauley-Stein to return for junior season

Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the Kentucky team next season, UK announced Monday.
“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said in a news release. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”
Cauley-Stein was named to the All-Southeastern Conference Defensive Team this season. With four blocks against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament, Cauley-Stein moved into a tie for second place in the single-season standings for blocks with 106. Only Anthony Davis (186) had more in a single year. That total also ranked in the top 10 nationally for the year.

Cauley-Stein’s season ended abruptly when he injured an ankle against Louisville in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

“I’m happy for Willie and also proud of him for making the best decision for him and his family,” Coach John Calipari said in a news release. “Being in school for at least three years will get him closer to having a degree and will help him prepare for the next level and life afterwards.”

The 7-foot sophomore has totaled 166 blocks in his career, which ranks sixth all-time in program history.

Cal: Eight UK players could turn pro, but not all of them will

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Monday that as many as eight UK players could enter this year’s NBA Draft.

“The good news is there are eight that could be going,” he said on Dan Patrick’s radio show. “I know eight are not going.”

Calipari suggested that he had no big influence on the stay-or-leave decision players must make.

“We had great conversations,” he said. “They all have the information. I’m not going to meet with them nine times.”

Calipari said he doesn’t try to persuade a player to stay by pointing out how he can improve a player’s game. Nor does he suggest that he will move a player to a different position the next season to give NBA people a look at the player at his pro position.

“This is, ‘Tell me what you want to do so I can help you,’” Calipari said.

Cal: Changing one-and-done rule key in coaching future

During an appearance Monday on Dan Patrick’s radio show, Kentucky Coach John Calipari talked about his coaching future.

Calipari seemed to rule out a move to the Los Angeles Lakers next season. After dismissing Rex Chapman’s tweet that the move was a “done deal,” Calipari was asked if he wanted the Lakers’ job.

“No, I’m good,” he said.

Changing the so-called one-and-done rule to a mandatory two-year stay in college for players could affect his tenure at UK, Calipari said. When Patrick asked whether he could continue as Kentucky coach for three to five years with a one-and-done rule, Calipari said:

“It’ll be hard because the option is to recruit players who are not good players or convince kids who should leave that they should stay.”

Calipari said he was “not comfortable” with trying to persuade standout players to stay in college.

As for recruiting less-talented players, Calipari said, “The fans, the Big Blue Nation in Kentucky, wouldn’t be comfortable.”

Cal dismisses talk of leaving UK for Lakers

During an appearance Monday on the Dan Patrick’s radio show, Kentucky Coach John Calipari made light of the talk that he would coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

When Patrick brought up the subject, Calipari said, “Where did this come from?”

Patrick mentioned Rex Chapman’s Twitter post before last Monday night’s championship game. Chapman said it was a “done deal” that Calipari would move to the Lakers next season, no matter whether Kentucky won or lost.

“Who is he?” Calipari said.

Patrick answered that Chapman was an All-American player for Kentucky.

“Oh, he is,” Calipari said.

With a hint of sarcasm in his voice, Patrick noted that Chapman was plugged in, the deal was done and Calipari would be coaching Kobe Bryant next season.

“Obviously, it’s not true,” Calipari said.

Calipari denied that there had been any contact between himself or his representative with the Lakers.

“There has been nothing,” he said. “I’m not mad at Rex. It is what it is. We moved on.”

Cal on what makes a good coach: All of the above

During his four-minute appearance Monday on CBS This Morning, Kentucky Coach John Calipari was asked whether a good coach needed to be a good recruiter or a good game tactician.

“You better be both because the only way you can be a great recruiter is you have results,” Calipari said. “Players are getting better.”

The first question of the interview involved why UK lost to UConn in NCAA Tournament championship game.

“Connecticut’s guard play was so good and they were so active that it affected us,” Calipari said. “But I had all freshmen. I tried to minimize the game for them. It wasn’t that big a game.

“Well, it was.”

Cal: ‘Tweak’ was instructing Andrew to pass first

Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s less-is-more philosophy applies to the much-discussed “tweak” he often spoke about as a difference-maker this season.

Calipari credited a “tweak,” which he declined to identify, as a reason Kentucky’s team played better in the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments.

During an appearance Monday on CBS This Morning, Calipari explained the tweak. He said it involved point guard Andrew Harrison.

Calipari said he and Harrison watched video of how Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets played point guard. Calipari said he wanted Harrison to follow Williams’ example as a pass-first point guard.

Harrison had hinted that the tweak involved Calipari turning down the intensity of his coaching demands. Instead, Harrison was free to make plays rather than run plays.

Calipari appeared on CBS This Morning as part of a tour promoting his new book, Players First.

UConn’s Niels Giffey touts benefit of 4-and-done

UConn senior Niels Giffey suggested the Huskies’ national championship can serve as an example of how four-year players can do something special.

“I hope that’s one of the things that our story, that we wrote, really tells,” he said, “and that people can see and hopefully they can learn a lesson from that.

“That it can really work out if you stay with one program for four years. And you stay with a core group of people and you really get to know each other on and off the court so well. You just create bonds that you will never forget, and you will always have throughout your life.”