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John Calipari To Remain As Kentucky Basketball Head Coach

Updated: Apr 3

After the smoke has settled we now have a more clear picture of what the 2024-25 basketball season will look like in this state. Kentucky Athletic Director, Mitch Barnhart, has decided to continue with John Calipari as the Kentucky men's head basketball coach. This decision I am almost certain was not an easy one for Barnhart as it appeared as though half of the fanbase was more than ready to move on from the Calipari era. The other half that thought that John Calipari was still the right man for the job is probably breathing a sigh of relief at hearing this decision.

According to KSR's Matt Jones, he is being told that John Calipari is not being fired. Now that we know John Calipari will remain as the head coach, where do we go from here? Will there be any other staffing changes? Who knows. I will say that with Kenny Payne being out as Louisville's head basketball coach that could be something to keep an eye on. Also, the coaching carousel is always a crazy thing in the off-season, so some of the current assistants such as Bruiser Flint, Chuck Martin, Orlando Antigua, and Chin Coleman could always leave to pursue their dreams of being a Head Coach in the NCAA.

The next thing on the agenda to discuss is the incoming freshman class. One would have to assume that if Calipari would have left, many of his incoming recruits would have probably de-committed and decided to go elsewhere. I know that no one within the Big Blue Nation wants to hear this after another first round exit in the NCAA Tournament, but the coach alluded to how excited he was about this incoming group of freshmen during his final postgame press conference.

On deck for the 2024-25 season included five-star Jayden Quaintance, four-star Boogie Fland, four-star Somto Cyril, four-star Karter Knox, four-star Billy Richmond, and Kentucky basketball state champion (and four-star) Travis Perry. The Head Coach also made some comments about using the transfer portal to finalize this roster for the upcoming season and he kind of shut down the idea of hitting the portal hard and heavy like many are suggesting. Now of course we don't have any clue on what players from this season's roster will decide to do in terms of returning or leaving, but if you keep count there are only six incoming freshmen. So, spots will need to be filled over the next few months. Maybe Calipari is hopeful to have some of his current players stay to add depth and experience to next year's roster, but just for the fun of it let's go through that list and see where we're at as of today.

Players who are for sure gone after this season:

  • Antonio Reeves (out of eligibility)

  • Tre Mitchell (out of eligibility)

  • Brennan Canada (out of eligibility)

  • Kareem Watkins (senior)

Players who will likely not return:

  • Rob Dillingham (potential top-5 draft pick)

  • Reed Sheppard (potential top-5 draft pick)

  • DJ Wagner (will likely be drafted in the late first round or early second)

  • Justin Edwards (same as DJ Wagner, solely based on potential)

  • Zvonimir Ivisic (never thought he would be more than a one year player at Kentucky)

Players who may use the transfer portal:

  • Ugonna Onyenso (tested the portal waters last year, wouldn't be surprised if he did again)

  • Aaron Bradshaw (if he doesn't decide to go to the draft I could see him testing the transfer portal)

Players likely to stay:

  • Adou Thiero (I think this one is almost a lock, the family seems to be committed to John Calipari)

  • Jordan Burks (I think he can have a good sophomore season with Kentucky, kind of like a second year Thiero route)

  • Joey Hart (I wouldn't be shocked if he decided to use the transfer portal so that he might see more playing time but I also could see him returning as well)

  • Walker Horn (honestly don't see Walker Horn leaving the program)

  • Grant Darbyshire (same as Walker Horn)

These are completely just speculation but with the six incoming freshmen and the four or five potential returners that still only leaves the roster with ten to eleven filled positions. With all that being said, unless John Calipari knows something that we don't then I honestly don't see a world where he doesn't dabble with the transfer portal at least a little bit to add some much needed experience and depth for next year's roster.

This off-season is going to be one for the books with the majority of the fanbase being in a position that we have not seen since the Billy Gillespie years. I feel like we have said this for the last few seasons, but in all seriousness I think this is a make-or-break season coming up for John Calipari. If next season does not play out well I don't see how this can continue without the fanbase completely checking out. We will just have to wait and see.

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