John Calipari gets in dig at Duke as war over 5-star recruit heats up

Over the past five years,
Duke Blue Devils
and
Kentucky Wildcats
have outclassed every other school in terms of recruiting, especially in terms of one-and-done talent. They’ve been in plenty of battles against each other on that front, and each has come away with its share of elite players.

Currently, the two teams are battling to secure the services of Marques Bolden, the No. 16 player in the Class of 2016 according to 247Sports, who could genuinely become a major contributor from Day 1 at either school. He’s a 6-foot-10 center with a 7-5 wingspan, massive hands, and solid post moves whose body should be able to take on the burdens of college basketball quickly. Bolden is down to Kentucky or Duke, and the team that gets him will have a leg up in terms of post depth in 2016-17, when these two battle as the top preseason teams in all of college basketball.

That recruitment has now turned even more public. In a post today in his “Vision of the Program” series for CoachCal.com, Kentucky coach John Calipari discussed some of the recruiting tactics that his competitors on the trail use. And really, it couldn’t be a more thinly veiled shot across the bow at Duke if he tried.

“We will continue to focus on making sure we’re trying to teach more than just basketball,” Calipari said. “I want to be sure that we’re not becoming enablers. Instead, we’re trying to give these kids the tools to have success in the future. Some of these kids may only stay a year or two. We must recognize that.

“I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, ‘If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums’ even though you may only be in school for a year or two. How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives? Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish.”

You might be asking how we know that’s a shot at Duke. Well, check out this quote from top 2017 recruit Hamidou Diallo regarding what Duke told him earlier this month. Diallo is being recruited by both programs, and this quote looks eerily similar, right?

“Duke’s pitch was just like, if I come to Duke, I’ll be set for life,” Diallo said.” It’s just a great school, all in all, you know?”

Pretty fun, right? It’s unclear which school Bolden is going to pick at this point, but once he does it’s likely that he’ll become a pretty major story as the two schools battle for supremacy throughout the season.

More than that though, this stuff says a lot about the bigger picture in college basketball right now. There are not two people more synonymous with college basketball right than Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski. It’s kind of fun that those two guys are so different and have such variant pitches and ideals about what the college game should be about. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get sneaky salty comments back and forth at each other as recruiting continues to intensify between the two programs.

After all, isn’t the game more fun with a bit of bad blood between the big boys?

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John Calipari did a bit of talking off the floor.


USATSI

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