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John Calipari Will Take Up his Position as Men’s Basketball Coach At Kentucky

Athletic director Mitch Barnhart said that Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari will return for his 16th season in 2024–25, despite the team’s second straight early departure from the NCAA tournament.

After the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament first-round loss to 14-seed Oakland last week, Calipari’s future appeared uncertain. It was the most recent upset on the team’s record; two years prior, Kentucky was seeded two and fell to Saint Peter’s, a team ranked fifteen, in the 2022 tournament’s first round.

“As we normally do at the end of every season, Coach Calipari and I have had conversations about the direction of our men’s basketball program and I can confirm that he will return for his 16th season as our head coach,” Barnhart wrote on X, which used to be Twitter.

Speaking on his season-ending radio show on Monday, Calipari said he knew that his team had failed to reach the expectation that, as the most successful men’s college basketball program in history and eight-time national champion, cutting down the nets in the season’s final game.

“I talked again about the standard … that I believe in, that I think we can do,” Calipari stated. “But that standard of national titles has been here from Coach [Adolph] Rupp on, and the only thing I’m saying to all our fans is you know I’m going to work — work in our state, work on this program, this university. … That’s my commitment. I’m not changing, 24/7, let’s go — whether it’s recruiting, all the stuff that we have to do.”

Calipari last appeared in the Final Four in 2015, and he has only won one national championship (2012). For the Wildcats’ ardent supporters, the previous few years had been difficult as Kentucky had the lowest record in team history—9-16 in 2020–21—and experienced early postseason exits in 2022 and 2023.

However, the return of seasoned player Antonio Reeves plus the rise of Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard, both of whom are expected to be among the top-10 picks in the NBA draft, gave hope that this season would be different for the Wildcats. Then, in an unexpected 80-76 victory over Kentucky, Jack Gohlke, a reserve for Oakland, made ten 3-pointers, sparking speculation about Calipari’s future.

Everyone can see that Calipari, who would have been entitled to a $33 million buyout if the university had decided to dismiss him now, will be under a lot of pressure to rebuild a team that ranked 111th in adjusted defensive efficiency and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament the following season.

Three of the top 25 prospects according to ESPN’s rankings are part of Kentucky’s 2024 recruiting class, including four-star recruit Karter Knox and two five-star players in Jayden Quaintance and Johnuel Fland.

Due to the fact that most teams are aging through the transfer portal, Calipari has come under fire for depending too much on youth. On Monday, however, he stated on his radio program that he will keep bringing in freshmen players while balancing his roster with portal veterans.

Calipari remarked, “This is like wearing a coat: It never goes away,” “But I love it. This is what I want. This is what I wanted. This is why I never left. This is it. And now it’s let’s come together and let’s do something. Let’s do something special. We’ve done it. Let’s do it again.”

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