Kentucky AD confirms John Calipari will return to Wildcats as coach

If there’s any lingering doubt, John Calipari will return kentuckybasketball coach.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart posted on social media Tuesday night that Calipari will return to Lexington for his 16th season. Last week, the Wildcats lost to Oakland University in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

The loss to the Grizzlies was Kentucky’s second first-round loss in three seasons. In 2022, the Wildcats were a No. 2 seed and lost to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s University. This year, Kentucky was the No. 3 seed and lost to the No. 14 seed.

Calipari appears to be returning as Kentucky coach after appearing on a radio show Monday night. The longtime coach said he is committed to returning Kentucky to the top of college basketball.

“This is my promise to the fans,” Calipari said on his radio show. “Now let’s come together and do something special. We can do it. We’ve done it. Let’s do it again.”

Kentucky is just 1-4 in its past five NCAA tournament games. After reaching the Elite Eight in 2019, the Wildcats failed to make the tournament in 2021 and lost in the second round as a No. 6 seed in 2023.

UK won the national championship in 2012 and returned to the Final Four in 2014 and 2015. The Wildcats never returned to the Final Four after that, although they lost twice in the Elite Eight as the No. 2 seed.

If — if — Barnhart wants to make a change at the top of Kentucky men’s basketball, there are two major hurdles to overcome. Calipari’s contract has a $33 million buyout. If he is fired, the buyout would be the largest ever. Credit to a basketball coach.

There’s also the question of who will replace him. florida atlanticDusty May is now the new coach MichiganFew coaches are ready for promotion. If there were an opening in Kentucky, it would be difficult to identify one or three clear candidates.

At Kentucky, Calipari relied heavily on highly regarded freshmen in the one-and-done era, and this year’s team will likely lose at least two first-year players to the NBA Draft. Rob Dillingham and Reed Shepard Both could be lottery picks.

There may be more to come in 2024-25. Kentucky Class of 2024 Currently No. 2 in the opponent rankings, which includes four five-star recruits. Center Jaden Quintens and guard Boogie Friend have signed with the Wildcats, while forwards Carter Knox and Billy Richmond have also verbally committed.

However, Calipari has indicated he is willing to adapt.This year’s team’s leading scorer is a senior Antonio Reeves, Calipari said he wants the team to continue to have veterans and highly regarded freshmen. Kentucky should be a major player in the transfer portal in the coming weeks and months.

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