|Anthony Davis & Co. show that a team can win with a bunch a freshmen. (Getty Images)|
John Calipari sat down Tuesday with future pros positioned to his right and left and started talking about the impact these five underclassmen had on him and his Kentucky program, at which point he took a shot at Rick Pitino because, honestly, why wouldn't he?
"Anybody that tells you in one or two years you cannot create a bond, they’re crazy," Calipari said, and that those words came just a few weeks after Pitino explained how he couldn't be a one-and-done coach because he can't "say hello and good-bye in seven months" was hard to miss.
It was classic Cal.
Passive-aggressive, pointed and intentional.
And he wasn't finished messing with folks just yet!
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From there Calipari announced that Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb had predictably decided to enter the 2012 NBA Draft. The national championship coach then paused and turned his attention separately to Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and, for a moment, the Big Blue Nation must've thought that maybe, just maybe, two of its elite freshmen would be returning for their sophomore seasons. Somewhere, Ashley Judd's heart skipped a beat. But Calipari quickly ended the suspense and said what everybody expected -- that Teague and Kidd-Gilchrist were gone, too. Their coach was just having a little fun on national television.
"I was trying to scare some coaches," Calipari said. "That's all I was doing."
So never again will an opposing college coach have to figure out how to contain Teague. Or help in the post off Lamb. Or stop Kidd-Gilchrist in transition. Or keep Jones off the offensive glass. Or prevent Davis from catching a lob no other amateur on Earth could catch. Their work at the NCAA level is officially done. They'll now try to join UK senior Darius Miller -- or, rather, UK senior Darius Miller will now try to join them -- in helping the Wildcats be the first program in history to place six players in the first round in the same year.
Will it happen?
Does it matter?
Because regardless of what happens in New York on June 28 after somebody selects Davis with the No. 1 overall pick, the mark this core has left on college basketball is secure and, in some ways, immeasurable. They will forever be the reason nobody can ever again insist Calipari can't win the big one. Or that no coach can win it all with a bunch of one-and-dones. Or that experience is important for a championship team. Or that depth is crucial to winning a championship.
These Wildcats buried those myths just like they buried Western Kentucky. And then Iowa State. And then Indiana. And then Baylor. And then Louisville. And then Kansas in the national title game to prevent Bill Self from winning his second championship in five years at Calipari's expense. They finished 38-2 while going undefeated in the SEC and inside Rupp Arena. Along the way they shattered everything some people -- simple-minded people, but people nonetheless -- thought they knew about this sport, and they gave Calipari eternal credibility with young players because love him or hate him there's no debating this anymore: His way works.
You can win it all in college as a player his way.
You can reach your NBA dreams and secure riches as a player his way.
There's been enough evidence over the years to suggest both of those things are true, but this group made it undeniable when they cut nets three Mondays ago down in New Orleans. That's their legacy. They gave Kentucky its eighth national title and Calipari his first. They're the reason recruiting and coaching and, by extension, winning should be easier than ever, and it's already been pretty easy considering Calipari has averaged 34 victories per season in three years at Kentucky and won 88 percent of his total games (including 100 percent of his home games).
Next season should be more of the same. The Wildcats are No. 1 in the CBSSports.com preseason Top 25 (and one). They'll be different but similarly loaded and physically overwhelming. Which is why Calipari's slight misdirection Tuesday while announcing his players' plans was funny but unnecessary. He said he did it to scare some coaches. But he's already done that, rest assured.