Calipari Says Kentucky Could've Been UCLA

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — UCLA has won 11 NCAA basketball championships, the most all time.

Kentucky is second with seven.

Yet Kentucky coach John Calipari says the Wildcats could have approached UCLA’s total if the one-and-done rule were not in effect.

“It’s not the ’70s,” he said Friday at Rutgers at the first annual clinic to benefit “In Brayden’s Eyes, The Brayden Carr Foundation.” “Could you imagine if I had these guys three and four years? It would be UCLA.”

Under legendary Hall of Fame coach John Wooden, UCLA won 10 NCAA titles between 1964-75, including seven in a row.

Yet while Wooden’s players — including Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton — stayed through their senior years before going pro, Calipari, at both Memphis and Kentucky, has become famous for coaching a slew of one-and-dones like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight.

Of course, if there were no one-and-done rule, Kentucky probably wouldn’t get some of the players they have gotten because there would be no opportunity for them to play if the older players remained.

“People that say, ‘Well, he likes one-and-done,'” said Calipari, who has taken three schools to the Final Four but has yet to win a championship. “I hate one-and-done. Why would I want one-and-done?

“I’m getting guys, I’d like to have them four years. We’d win a whole lot of games. But that’s not the rule so now we end up losing three and four and five and maybe six this year to the NBA.”

“If you’re happy for the kids, you just try to figure it out later.”

Knight went No. 8 to the Detroit Pistons in this year’s NBA Draft, and has four current Kentucky players going in the top 18 of the 2012 NBA Draft.

Freshman power forward Anthony Davis is projected as the No. 1 pick, freshman power forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of St. Patrick is No. 8, sophomore wing Terrence Jones is No. 12 and freshman point guard Marquis Teague is No. 18. Sophomore shooting guard Doron Lamb of Queens is projected to go in the second round.

Already looking ahead to 2012, Calipari has landed a verbal pledge from Top 10 shooting guard Archie Goodwin, and Kentucky is in the mix with a number of elite players, including Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Poythress, Mitch McGary, DaJuan Coleman and Devonta Pollard.

Kentucky will end up being No. 2 in the nation in many preseason polls behind North Carolina, and Calipari seems to think that’s about right.

“Carolina’s really good and they got everybody back,” he said. “We played them. They beat us once, we beat them once. Obviously, we lost most of our guys and they got everybody back.

“Ohio State’s gonna be really good,” he added. “Connecticut’s gonna be really good. Kansas is gonna be really good.”

(Photo courtesy Daily News)

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