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Kentucky's John Calipari: Eight players in draft bigger than title win

Kentucky Coach John Calipari says top goal last season was to get eight players drafted

Kentucky was the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA men's basketball tournament this past season, but the Wildcats met their doom against Wisconsin in the Final Four.

Despite seeing the Wildcats' perfect season get torched, Kentucky Coach John Calipari was gracious in defeat after the game. Besides, it turns out winning the NCAA title was only a secondary goal for him.

After receiving a humanitarian award Wednesday at Kentucky's Rupp Arena, Calipari said the Wildcats achieved their No. 1 objective -- to see eight players become eligible for the 2015 NBA draft.

“Last year we started the season with a goal," Calipari said. "You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted.

"Well, how can you be about your team if you’re worried about getting players drafted? We kind of work it the other way. What are your dreams? What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life? How can we help you with that?"

Calipari went on the explain that he sees himself as a sort of NBA dream-maker. He said his primary mission as a college basketball coach is to help players make the jump to the pro game.

“For me, the mission for me is to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on," he said. "Now in our state, they want my mission to be, ‘win national titles, win national titles.’ My mission is bigger than that."

Although it seems commendable that Calipari sees himself as part of the bigger picture in his players' lives, it's difficult to believe Calipari's comments are genuine. Is he simply trying to numb the sting of a disappointing semifinal loss or does he really take pride in aiding the underclassmen talent exodus many pundits believe is hurting college basketball?

Either way, it's hard to imagine Kentucky's brass wouldn't want national championships to be Calipari's primary goal. After all, they're not paying him more than $6.3 million a season to see seven players with college basketball eligibility bolt to the NBA.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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