The Recruiting Genius of John Calipari

College basketball fans may often wonder how John Calipari continues to reel in the top recruiting class year after year after year. If follow him close enough, you’ll find plenty of answers to that question. His most recent display of recruiting genius came yesterday in an announcement via Twitter. Coach Cal decided to let the world know that every single player on the Kentucky roster would be declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft. This is hilarious, typical, and brilliant.

Here’s what Cal had to say on the matter:

Met with our team today. Told them that during the season it’s about the team and sacrificing for each other — which they did this year. When the season’s over, it’s about each individual player and what’s right for them and their families.

With that being said, every player who is eligible for the draft, including our walk-ons, will submit their names for the NBA Draft in hopes of being invited to the combine in May. The new rule states they can submit their name a total of three times. If they choose to withdraw, they have until 10 days after the combine. It’s a true win-win for the student-athlete.

Just so you know, having every kid put their name in the draft is about all players getting the right information. Players not invited to the combine know what that means. Players invited to the combine and told to go back to school know that that means. As I said, it’s a win-win for the student athletes. I like the rule.

Every year, dozens of underclassmen declare for the NBA Draft. They gather information on their potential draft position and assess whether keeping their names in the Draft is a smart move. If they decide that another year of college would be beneficial — then they must withdraw their name from the Draft before an arbitrary deadline in order to retain their eligibility. Before this season, that deadline occurred before the NBA combine (an invitation only process for NBA scouts to evaluate the nation’s top prospects).

In January, the NCAA decided to make a rule change to help college athletes — which may be the first time that organization has done anything to help the players. Now, the deadline to withdraw from the draft falls 10 days after the combine. The shift will allow prospective draftees the opportunity to gather much more reliable information about when — and if — their names will be called on Draft night.

That, my friends, is music to John Calipari’s ears. Leave it up to Cal to get way out in front of the competition and completely take advantage of the rule change for his recruiting benefit. As a Kentucky fan, this couldn’t make me happier.

Cal has exploited the “one and done” rule since it’s inception and has put together an unprecedented run of recruiting talent as a result. How does he do it? By being honest about the stupidity of the rule. You won’t hear Cal delivering the NCAA stump speech about amateurism and student athletes. That’s a load of crap. The players that plan to be in college for a single season never have to attend a single class in order to stay eligible. Just ask Ben Simmons. Instead, Coach Cal is honest about the effect of the “one and done” rule on college basketball and the mind set of the country’s top players. Give him a year at UK and he’ll give you a career in the NBA. It’s a promise he’s delivered on time and time again.

This latest move is more evidence of his forward thinking. The movement of the deadline removes all downside for players to declare themselves eligible for the draft. Don’t receive an invite to the combine? Then you’re probably not likely to be drafted and you can go back to school to further develop your skills. Get a combine invitation and you gain invaluable experience as to the draft process and access to NBA franchises. Then you can take a few days to process that information and make a well-reasoned decision about what’s best for your future.

Cal’s announcement assures that Kentucky’s “player-first” brand remains in the national spotlight and the current players on UK’s roster will get their NBA questions answered before deciding whether or not to return to Lexington next season.

Like Cal said, it’s a “win-win” for the student-athletes. But it’s also a win-win John Calipari and Big Blue Nation.

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A lucky man. Also a lawyer. Classic oxymoron.

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