“It was incredible,” Calipari said.
That feeling led Calipari to make his proclamation about the “biggest day” after seeing DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Daniel Orton also picked in the first round.
“I was not talking about the past. I was talking about the future,” Calipari said. “It was a two-hour infomercial for our league and the University of Kentucky. It will speak volumes for five years or longer.”
Calipari still values winning a national title and again insisted Monday that “players will win us national titles” at Kentucky.
The coach says his challenge is figuring out how to get to the Elite Eight like UK did this year and still advance with a young team unless rules are changed where one-and-done players like Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Orton won’t be an annual issue at Kentucky.
“How do you deal with those last three games with a young team like we had last year? It looks like we will always be a young team,” Calipari, who will bring seven new players on the team this year, said.
He says he has nine players on campus now and they are training and playing pick-up games.
“I am excited about our returning team. They are great kids,” he said.
He says what he’s hearing about junior Darius Miller is “ridiculous” and that he could be put in the “position of making a decision (about the NBA)” next year. He says the same is true of junior guard DeAndre Liggins.
Calipari says the biggest offseason surprise has been senior center Josh Harrellson, who played well on a Sports Reach nine-game exhibition tour of China that teammate Jon Hood also was on.
“He went to China and people were stunned at how good he is. The weight and strength coaches say he is on a mission,” Calipari said. “He played behind two first-round draft picks (Cousins and Orton).”
Even though Harrellson played sparingly last year, Calipari says he “absolutely” could help offset the loss of Patterson, Cousins, Orton and reserve Perry Stevenson.
“We lost three front-line guys who were good players,” Calipari said. “We are bringing in a couple in Eloy (Vargas) and Enes (Kanter). We can play Darius at the four (power forward) and Terrence (Jones) some at four. That’s not his best position, but he can do it. We are not that deep in the front court, so he absolutely has a chance to play.”