John Calipari Held Serve at Peach Jam while Rajon Rondo and Eric Bledsoe Embrace Change

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Jul 5, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees General manager Brian Cashman (right) and Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman-The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Johnson is John Calipari’s #1 Small Forward target in the 2014 Class.  Exactly what does that mean?  It means that John Calipari wants Stanley Johnson so bad that he hasn’t offered a scholarship to any other SF in the 2014 class. Anyone.  For a coach that has, upon occasion, not been flush with players at certain positions, it’s clear that Coach Cal is sending a message and it is being received by Mr. Johnson loud and clear.

In a packed gym here on Friday morning, Stanley Johnson put on one of the most dominating and impressive performances in this Peach Jam yet.

The 6-foot-7 small forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei went off for 33 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks as the Oakland Soldiers came from behind to fend off Abdul Malik Abu and Expressions Elite, 67-64.

Johnson’s 33 points — he also went 3-for-5 from the arc — accounted for almost half of his team’s offensive output.

“He’ll be one-and-done,” one Division 1 head coach told, likely summing up the feelings of just about everyone in the gym.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was courtside for this game and had a great seat for the block.

“I’m the only person that was offered by Kentucky at my position so that’s a big deal for me,” he said of Kentucky. “So just kind of realizing that kind of made me think about that a little bit more.”

He’s also excited about heading to Big Blue Madness in October.

“That’s supposed to be the biggest show ever,” he said. “I talked to Cliff [Alexander], Cliff went last year. I have a couple people going with me this year. The coaches have explained it to me already. I told them I want to be there for the best. And this is their best. I’m excited for it. I’m excited to see all the fans. I’ve never seen Rupp. They say it’s like 30,000 deep. I want to see that full. I want to see all the players, I want to see everything.”

Johnson cut short the interview with reporters before discussing other schools, other than to say that Duke was “at the bottom of the barrel” because they weren’t making him a priority.

Still, Johnson plans to take all five visits and then decide in the winter and sign in the spring.

“The official visits in the fall will mean a lot to me and…hopefully I’ll make my decision by end of November, December, January and I’ll sign in the late period,” he said.

And then there were four, at least for 2014 Guard Trey Lyles.  Thursday night, Trey Lyles whittled down his Top 6 to Top 4 with the elimination of Duke and UCLA.  And yes I love that he doesn’t care for Duke.  Who does really?  And Butler without Brad Stevens?  Cute.  Louisville develops players a little better than Kentucky?  Hilarious.  Ben Roberts of NextCats spoke with him recently.


“I just thought this was a good time to do it,” Lyles said. “Trying to get it over with early and if I would have done it later I still would have had the same response.”

The four schools that made the cut were UK, U of L, Butler and Florida.

Butler represents the hometown choice for the Indianapolis power forward: “I like the campus. I like the school. It’s close to home and my parents could come watch me play.”

Florida is the only school remaining that’s more than three hours away: “I like the coaching staff. When I get down there for a visit I’ll be deciding whether they stay in my top schools or if they’re going to get cut.”

Then there’s Kentucky and Louisville, the two schools perceived as the favorites in Lyles’ recruitment.

The 6-foot-9 prospect stirred up Twitter on Thursday night when he said that U of L develops players better but Kentucky gets them to the NBA faster. He clarified Friday to say that U of L develops players because the Cards usually have them longer.

“Louisville develops them better because they have them for longer periods of time,” Lyles said. “When Kentucky gets them they get them for usually one year. Louisville gets them for three or four years. They have more time to develop their players.”

He said UK’s recent success with one-and-done players is a selling point.

“Kentucky, they’ve had a lot of guys go one year and done,” he said. “A lot of guys want to do that. They’re getting guys into the league, and when they’re in the league they’re actually doing something for their teams.”

Lyles — the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2014 — said he’d like to explore the one-and-done route if he has the opportunity. But he added that he thinks he could do that at both UK and U of L.

UK’s John Calipari and Butler’s Brandon Miller were the only two head coaches who watched Lyles’ first Peach Jam game Thursday night. He said he appreciates it when the head coaches come to see his games, even if they’re not the primary recruiters.

UCLA Coach Steve Alford was there for his first game Friday, but Lyles said his list of four finalists was set.

Lyles wants to take official visits to all four schools on his list. He just returned home from the FIBA under-19 world championships in Europe and hasn’t made any plans for midnight madness or any other visits. He also doesn’t have a timetable for a decision.

“None of those things are set yet,” he said.

With John Calipari newly elected to the NABC board, he is gearing up to have a voice in the “one and done” debate.  Yes, I know the “one and done” isn’t a college rule and the NABC is a college coach board but Mr. One and Done can lend some gravitas to the discussion and possibly fuel a college engine to push for the NBA to change their rule to a “two and done” scenario.  Check out Mike DeCourcy below:

John Calipari has been elected to National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors. He was added along with Cy Alexander of North Carolina A&T and Rick Cooper of West Texas A&M.

Now, most board meetings are as much fun as a traffic jam, but who wouldn’t want to sit in on those sessions?

Calipari has strong opinions about most everything in his field of vision. That might or might not include fracking or “Sharknado,” but it definitely involves most aspects of basketball and the college game’s place in it, starting with the NBA age limit rule.

Many NABC honchos wasted time since 2007 pining for basketball to adopt the “baseball rule,” in which athletes would be allowed to declare for the draft out of high school but those who entered college could not be in another draft for two or three years.

This would be bad for the entire sport, but comforting for college coaches who would enjoy roster certainty. Discussing it was a waste of time, however, because NBA commissioner David Stern pursued the age limit rule to keep untrained high school players out of his league.

Having coached a great number of players who entered the draft after a single college season, Calipari believes all levels of the game would be best served by extending the age limit a second year, to age 20 and two years out of high school. Now he can take that campaign inside the college game’s hierarchy and see if that can help to advance it.

“What I want to do is, how do we make sure we’re looking after these kids?” Calipari told Sporting News. “You talk about protecting the game, but first of all protect these kids. What are the ways, what are the ideas, that can make this a better experience and a better situation for these kids?

“And then protecting the game: What we’re trying to do, how we’re trying to do it. And a big part of that is the one-and-done rule.”

Calipari said he is “willing to listen” as a member of the board as much as he is eager to advocate his own positions. He did not give any specifics beyond the age limit rule as to how to help enhance the experience for the college player because he didn’t want to make any new cases in public before he discussed them with his colleagues on the NABC board.

“I’ll have ideas,” he said. “It’s got to be things … we also represent these players.”

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