Realistic candidates Kentucky should target if John Calipari era comes to an end

The future of the John Calipari era at Kentucky is up in the air and if it ends, here are five realistic candidates that the Wildcats should target.
Mar 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan calls a time out
Mar 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan calls a time out / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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These are interesting days in Lexington. That's because no one knows exactly what the future of the John Calipari era of Kentucky basketball is.

Following the Wildcats' inexcusable loss to No. 14 seed Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, there is growing sentiment that sweeping changes are needed for a program that hasn't reached the Final Four since 2015.

Whether or not those changes will include the ultimate blow-it-up move of replacing John Calipari remains to be seen. However, some are reporting that we could know by Monday what direction the university will head.

In the event that Calipari and UK head their separate ways, let's look at realistic candidates the university should target to get the Wildcats back to where they belong in the hierarchy of college basketball.

Billy Donovan

Chicago Bulls

One of the best college basketball coaches in the nation is currently wasting his time in the NBA and Kentucky would be wise to try to bring him back where he belongs. Billy Donovan may be on the hot seat as head coach of the Chicago Bulls after yet another mediocre season in the Windy City and he would look great in Kentucky blue.

The 58-year-old is just 34-37 this year with Chicago to bring his four-season record with that franchise to just 151-156. Overall, in nine years as an NBA head coach, he's just 394-313 and he's working on his third losing season in the past four campaigns.

The NBA just isn't panning out for Donovan and that's because he is working for a cheap organization that doesn't want to spend the type of money required to compete at a high level. That wouldn't be a problem in Lexington.

Of course, Donovan is one of the best college basketball coaches of his generation. In 19 seasons at Florida (1996-2015) he compiled a 467–186 (.715) mark winning the National Championship in 2006 and 2007 and getting the Gators to 14 NCAA Tournaments.

Donovan may be motivated to reset the clock on expectations by leaving a situation in Chicago that's grown stale and somewhat toxic. What's more, he coul be interested in coming back to the college game where he could have full control over his program, something he hasn't had in the NBA.

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