Posted on: June 2, 2010 11:18 am
Edited on: June 2, 2010 1:51 pm

UK should've known better, investigator says

Kentucky officials should've known there were concerns that could affect the eligibility of Eric Bledsoe, an investigator who checks the background of athletes told the Lexington-Herald Leader's Jerry Tipton in a story published Wednesday.

"Coaches at other schools know there [were potential problems]," said Michael L. Buckner, an investigator and attorney based in Florida. "[So] I would assume Kentucky knew or should have known."

Buckner goes on to explain what I think is the most interesting aspect of the story -- that schools focused primarily on winning at any cost often don't do thorough background checks because they'd rather not know what's there. In other words, if the player is cleared by the NCAA, that's good enough for the school (even though the Derrick Rose case proved that the NCAA clearing a prospect hardly clears a school from future NCAA problems).

"Sometimes, I think, some schools may take the stance, 'We're just going to follow the rules as they dictate and only do what we're required to do,'" Buckner said. "... The NCAA gives schools a false sense of security when they clear a player to play. Then issues come up afterward."

In fairness to Kentucky, Bledsoe was going to play somewhere last season. Had he signed with Memphis, he would've played at Memphis. Had he signed with Florida, he would've played at Florida. But the reality of the situation is that the one-and-done prospect signed with Kentucky under a new and high-profile coach (John Calipari) who has had two Final Fours vacated, and, as Buckner noted, Kentucky should've known that alone would invite the type of scrutiny that led to the New York Times reporting last week that Bledsoe might've accepted extra benefits while in high school while making an unusual jump academically to meet freshman eligibility standards.

"That just raises the stakes," Buckner said. "'We need to do everything right. We need to dot i's, cross t's because we know people are going to look at the recruiting class in Calipari's first year, and subsequent years.'"

Instead, Kentucky chose to not take a stand, which isn't a surprise given that no athletics director has ever been able to properly stand up to Calipari and tell him something was off-limits the way multiple athletics directors told their coaches last year they could not enroll Lance Stephenson. Kentucky left Bledsoe's status up to the NCAA and only the NCAA without recognizing that its new coach's old school had just been burned by that same approach.

Again, in fairness to Kentucky, this is the way most schools do things. But it's becoming clear that UK must take a different approach with Calipari because if the school doesn't investigate thoroughly, various media outlets will, at which point an issue that could've been avoided can become an embarrassing problem that garners national headlines.
Posted on: June 1, 2010 1:10 pm

Moultrie to take visits before committing

UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie remains undecided about his next college and now plans to visit multiple schools before enrolling anywhere, his mentor, Sorrell Valentine, told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.

"At first he wanted to enroll in summer school in June," Valentine said. "But now he's going to take a few visits before he decides anything."

Valentine's comments come after a Memorial Day weekend during which various sources told CBSSports.com that Moultrie was leaning toward registering for summer school at Mississippi State on Tuesday. Valentine neither confirmed nor denied such was ever a plan. All he said is that Moultrie is not in school at Mississippi State, and that the 6-foot-11 forward will now take visits before settling on a destination.

Among the schools believed to be involved with Moultrie are Mississippi State, Arkansas, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Memphis native averaged 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore at UTEP. Moultrie will sit out next season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible with two years remaining in 2011-12 provided he transfers to a school with a release. It's unclear which schools have requested and received releases. But it's worth noting that Valentine said UTEP has released Moultrie to Mississippi State after initially declining to do so. Memphis does not have a release because it is, like UTEP, a C-USA school.
Posted on: May 26, 2010 7:25 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2010 7:28 pm

Payne leaving Oregon for Kentucky

Oregon's Dana Altman confirmed Wednesday that assistant Kenny Payne is leaving to join John Calipari at Kentucky.

"Kenny's gonna go to Kentucky,'' Altman said, according to the Oregonian newspaper. "He's done a great job for us, and I really wanted him to stay. It's been kind of an awkward start because I did not know Kenny when I got here a month ago, but after a week, I got very comfortable around him and offered him a job and wanted him to stay. But he had a number of offers on the table and investigated them all, and he went to Kentucky this past weekend and really liked it, felt like it was in his best interest and his family's best interest to go to Kentucky."

The hiring of Payne is notable because he's an elite recruiter and friends with William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with longstanding ties to Calipari. Payne replaces Rod Strickland, who was demoted after a recent drinking-and-driving arrest. UK's other assistants are John Robic and Orlando Antigua.
Posted on: May 23, 2010 8:32 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2010 8:46 pm

Oregon assitant Payne spends weekend visiting UK

Oregon assistant Kenny Payne visited Kentucky this weekend and is a candidate to join John Robic and Orlando Antigua on John Calipari's staff, Oregon coach Dana Altman told CBSSports.com on Sunday.

"Kenny's really good," Altman said by phone. "He works hard and does a good job. That's why Kentucky wants him."

A move by Payne to Kentucky would come as no surprise given that he's a close friend of William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with ties to Calipari. It's also worth noting that Payne has spent years recruiting Terrence Jones, a Portland native who committed to Kentucky last week. Multiple sources told CBSSports.com that Payne's probable presence at Kentucky was a factor, though not the determining factor, in helping the Wildcats lure Jones away from Washington. Jones publicly committed to Washington last month but waffled in the wake of a phone call with Calipari. The McDonald's All-American signed a financial aid agreement with UK last week.

Altman said he plans to meet with Payne to discuss his future in the next 48 hours.
Posted on: May 14, 2010 1:19 am
Edited on: May 14, 2010 1:26 am

LeBron's loss could be UK's loss, too

LeBron James' bad night could turn into Kentucky's worst nightmare.

Will it?

We'll see in the coming weeks and months, I guess. But there's no denying the Celtics' 94-85 win over the Cavaliers that ended James' season in the Eastern Conference semifinals late Thursday leaves the future of UK's program in an uncertain state because John Calipari will now be considered a candidate at almost any place James plays next season.

Most believe James enters free agency with four realistic options.

One is Clevelend.

One is New Jersey.

One is Chicago.

One is New York.

Two of those franchises (New Jersey and Chicago) are looking for a coach, and a third (Cleveland) will be soon. So three of the four likely destinations for James will have a new coach in place next season, which means UK fans hoping to keep Calipari for more than a year had better start lobbying for the Knicks to sign the free agent they covet most.

In that case, James would play for Mike D'Antoni.


But if James chooses Cleveland, New Jersey or Chicago, Calipari will be a candidate to join him, and multiple sources have repeatedly told CBSSports.com that Calipari -- who is famously close with James and most of the people around James, including agent Leon Rose and basketball powerbroker William Wesley -- would not reject an offer to coach the two-time MVP in what would be the prime of his career.

Will Calipari get an offer?

That's unclear.

But if he does, sources believe he'll accept it.

"We'll see what happens," James said late Thursday night.

Yes, LeBron, I suppose we will.
Posted on: May 13, 2010 11:00 am

Strickland demoted at Kentucky

Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland, in the wake of a drinking-and-driving arrest, has been demoted to an administrative role, which should clear the way for Oregon assistant Kenny Payne to join John Robic and Orlando Antigua on John Calipari's staff.

"Rod Strickland has been a vital part of our success here at Kentucky and helped set a foundation for our program,” Calipari said.  “He will continue to be an integral part of our future successes in a non-coaching capacity."

Worth noting is that Payne is a close friend of William Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with longstanding ties to Calipari. Assuming Payne fills Strickland's spot at UK, the Wildcats might then become the favorite to land Terrence Jones, the McDonald's All-American from Portland who is still deciding between Washington and Kentucky.

Payne recruited Jones while at Oregon.
Posted on: May 12, 2010 10:35 am
Edited on: May 12, 2010 12:07 pm

Moultrie's recruitment intensifying

Former UTEP standout Arnett Moultrie has developed into the hottest transfer on the market.

Most high-major programs in the south -- Tennessee, Memphis, Kentucky, Texas, etc., -- have inquired about the 6-foot-11 forward since the Memphis native withdrew from the NBA Draft last week and announced he would not return to UTEP. And though Moultrie's hometown school remains in play, developments over the past 48 hours suggest Mississippi State and Arkansas have made strong pushes and positioned themselves well.

Still, there could be an issue.

Sources told CBSSports.com on Wednesday that -- in addition to Memphis and other C-USA schools -- UTEP might not release Moultrie to Mississippi State or Arkansas. In that case, Moultrie would not be allowed to be on scholarship next year at either school. He would also lose a year of eligibility.

Why is Moultrie such a commodity?

He's a tall and skilled future NBA player who is being viewed by most as a Class of 2011 one-and-done prospect, as a guy who will sit out next year (per NCAA transfer rules) before having the same kind of impact in 2011-12 that Ekpe Udoh had at Baylor. Moultrie and Udoh aren't similar players, but they're simiar talents. Which is why coaches will spend Wednesday continuing to jockey for position, and this recruitment could turn 100 different ways before it ends, and there's no telling when it will end.

Fall classes don't start until August.

Moultrie and his people can be patient, if they want.
Posted on: May 4, 2010 7:47 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2010 10:00 pm

Calipari reportedly 'interested' in Bulls opening

John Calipari Tweeted on Tuesday that he's "very happy at Kentucky" in an obvious response to a Yahoo! Sports report suggesting he would "be willing to listen to a pitch" from the Chicago Bulls about the franchise's head coaching vacancy.

"Throughout my career I've been mentioned for other jobs; now that I'm here you won't hear about other colleges because I've got the best job," Calipari said. "Every year you will hear my name mentioned for NBA jobs because I coached in the league before. I'm very happy at Kentucky."

Multiple sources close to Calipari have repeatedly told CBSSports.com that Calipari's goal is to someday coach LeBron James, and one source has even said Calipari would "absolutely leave Kentucky, 100 percent, tomorrow" if that opportunity presented itself. Clearly, there's no way to know at this moment where James will play next season or whether he'll need a new coach because he'll become a free agent this summer. But nobody close to Calipari who has spoken with CBSSports.com has ever disputed or downplayed Calipari's interest in returning to the NBA to coach James, whom Calipari has often referred to as his "friend."

Coaching Derrick Rose with the Bulls might be the next best option.

That's why the report makes sense -- though it's unclear if the Bulls are interested in Calipari.

Either way, Calipari is half-right with his Tweet. This will indeed happen every year, but it won't happen because he "coached in the league before." The reason this will happen every year is because he does nothing to squash the rumors, and he has a history of publicly stating his affection for his current job while maneuvering to try to get another job. Most recently, he did it at Memphis.

"I love Memphis," Calipari said in March 2009. "I want to be here."

Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky less than a week after delivering that quote.

UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart released a statement late Tuesday designed to calm things. It read: "I'm extremely proud of what Coach Calipari has done in just one year as the leader of our men's basketball program. Cal has brought Kentucky men's basketball back to its rightful place of national prominence and I'm excited about our future. We have begun initial discussions on restructuring his contract so that he's the coach at Kentucky until he retires."

The problem with that statement is that there's no contract that can ensure Calipari retires at UK.

He doesn't operate like that.

Truth is, Calipari will be at UK for the same amount of time he was at Memphis, and it has nothing to do with years. He stayed at Memphis until he was offered a better job, and that's also how long he'll stay at Kentucky, until the day he's offered a better job. The good news for UK fans, of course, is that there aren't many better jobs than Kentucky, and Calipari would never leave for another college job. But, as I wrote back in January, coaching LeBron is absolutely a better job, and coaching Rose, Joakim Noah and some top-shelf free agent might be a better job, too.

Will Calipari ever have either opportunity?

Who knows?

But a restructured contract won't ensure he retires at Kentucky.

Of that, I'm certain.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com