Calipari targeted by Kentucky
The University of Memphis gave Kentucky permission yesterday to speak to John Calipari about the Wildcats' head coaching position, then made a final push to try to keep the coach.
Some of Memphis's key boosters met with Calipari yesterday. But one booster expects Calipari to go to Kentucky, though the person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations, acknowledged the coach was torn between the two great opportunities.
The Wildcats had a short meeting at their practice gym yesterday afternoon. Asked afterward if they had a new coach, senior Jared Carter said, "I think so." Asked if it were Calipari, Carter shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know."
Calipari met with Memphis players yesterday morning.
"He told us he's going to keep us posted," Memphis freshman forward Wesley Witherspoon told WHBQ-TV in Memphis after Calipari met with the team.
Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie Friday, ready to move on after two frustrating seasons. They went right to work yesterday, with two university staffers carrying large cardboard photos of Gillispie out of the practice center while media crews watched.
Kentucky spokesman DeWayne Peevy would not confirm or deny an ESPN report that Wildcats officials had already met with Calipari and were prepared to offer him the job. Citing unidentified sources, ESPN.com reported the offer was believed to be for eight years and around $35 million.
In its coaching search, Kentucky quickly targeted Calipari, who just finished his ninth season at Memphis and has a 137-14 record over the past four seasons.
Joining them on the team were players from schools with little All-America history, sophomores DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh, James Harden of Arizona State, and junior Stephen Curry of Davidson.
Boston College's Tyrese Rice, UConn's A.J. Price, Dartmouth's Alex Barnett, and Vermont's Marqus Blakely were all named honorable mention.