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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T. J. Otzelberger

Iowa State

If Kentucky wants a complete culture change, then T. J. Otzelberger of Iowa State might be an intriguing candidate. That's because he's built one of the best defensive programs in the nation in Ames.

This year, Iowa State gave up just 61.3 points per game. That was the 4th-fewest in the nation.

Meanwhile, the 79.7 points per game Kentucky gave up ranked 340th nationally. That's not championship basketball.

Otzelberger has worked his way up from the high school coaching ranks to being one of the best young coaches in the country. Overall, he's 169-97 as a head coach.

But with the Cyclones, he's managed to go 70-34 and get to the NCAA Tournament in all three of his seasons. Along the way he's turned that program into a rugged, defensive juggernaut which earned a No. 2 seed in this year's Big Dance.

Ultimately, the candidates presented above are not the kinds who are going to make UK fans water at the mouth (except perhaps Donovan). However, if the Calipari era is over, Kentucky needs to ask itself if it wants to be splashy or if it wants to win at the highest levels.

If the latter is what is desired, then the men on this list would make perfect sense for the Wildcats. That's why these realistic candidates might be exactly what Big Blue Nation needs in the wake of the Calipari tenure should it be over.

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