Calipari Talks Dominican Team, Fantasy Experience, And Staying Ahead Of The Curve
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach John Calipari likes to keep busy. So fresh off his first national championship with the Wildcats, Calipari is coaching the Dominican Republic national team for the second year in a row in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics this summer.
The team will play in the Olympic qualifying tournament July 2-8 in Caracas, Venezuela. The squad leaves for Puerto Rico on June 15 to compete in the FIBA CentroBasket tournament.
Calipari said Tuesday that he will only be with the team in Puerto Rico for a day or two; instead, he'll be working with Kentucky's freshmen and attending the NBA draft.
The Dominican team is working out at Kentucky's practice facility. Among the players on the team's roster are NBA veterans Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Francisco Garcia. Also in the camp is Karl Towns, a 6-11 16-year-old from Piscataway, N.J.
Towns is considered among the elite prep players in the class of 2015.
Calipari wasn't even sure if he could talk about Towns. The NCAA prohibits coaches from talking about prospective student-athletes by name until they sign to attend that coach's school. Kentucky spokesman DeWayne Peevy clarified for Calipari, saying "You can talk about players on the Dominican team in reference to the Dominican team."
Though it's unclear if Towns will make the team.
"He is a player who is a good player that I did not know a year ago, didn't know anything about. He's a pretty good player," Calipari said. "He's young. Will he make the team? I don't know. He's 16 years old. He's 6-10 and, you know … but he's getting muscled right now. The guys trying to make the team are throwing him around and it's a good experience for him."
Coaching the Dominican team is just part of Calipari's busy summer schedule.
He'll be working with a new group of incoming Kentucky freshman as part of a new NCAA rule that allows college coaches to work with players for two hours a week during the summer.
"Think about what I'm saying: two one-hour workouts a week. Let me say this, it's better than no workouts all summer," Calipari said. "I'm more concerned about them getting in great condition, physically getting stronger. We'll put in the dribble-drive (offense), but the reality of it is the way you get better is every day you're working at it, then a day off and you come back every day. This is, like, sprinkled in. It will help some, but it's not going to have the impact everybody thinks."
Calipari also wants to schedule a tripleheader weekend, where Kentucky's football, men's basketball and women's basketball teams play another school's football, men's basketball and women's basketball teams on the same weekend at the same venue.
He announced the John Calipari Fantasy Basketball Experience, a $7,500 fantasy camp in which attendees will suit up, practice and play in a game at Rupp Arena just like they were Wildcats. Calipari said he hopes he can stream the game online. All of the money raised will go to the Calipari Family Foundation.
Calipari said his goal with all of the above is to simply keep separating himself from the pack.
"We'll sit down and just say, 'How can we keep separating?' There's some things we're thinking about doing, if I said them to you right now, some of you would be very angry," he said. "Because we're going to do some new things that are different, and you're going to look at and say, 'When did they have the time to think this stuff up?' "