Q. Coach, how about all these Kentucky teams in the tournament this year? Three of the four playing right here. Talk about what that means to the state of Kentucky.On the issue of one and dones:
COACH CALIPARI: I think it says a lot about basketball in this state. I mean, you’re talking about two of the teams, really three of the teams won their conference tournament. We did not. You’re talking three of the teams at the end of the year, they’re all on win streaks right now. Obviously, we are not.
But Murray was the story all year, and then at the end of the year, Ray gets Western playing, and out of nowhere they become the story. And then Louisville goes to New York and does what they do. It’s neat stuff for our state.
Q. You discussed the one and done issue repeatedly, but I was curious, if you could put NBA executives, player agents, players’ union and yourself in a room and come up with a policy that worked, how would you like to see it changed?Some more talk about Western Kentucky University:
COACH CALIPARI: How long can I‑‑ can I expound on this a little bit? Am I allowed to?
Here’s what I would say. It starts with you get the NCAA in the room, and you say you give these kids the stipend they deserve. That’s one.
Two, the insurance that they have to pay for themselves, which can be upwards of $15,000 per year, $20,000 per year that they have to pay for themselves. They’re loaned the money, and then they have to repay it when they come out. The NCAA should pay that to encourage them to stay.
The third thing is families, the NBA, and the NCAA should get together and have a loan program for those families‑‑ we’re only talking 30 kids. We’re not talking 500 players. We’re talking 30 kids that would be eligible for that insurance. They should be able to have a loan. To what level, I don’t know.
The last two things are the NBA. And Billy Hunter and I have talked about these. One, if a young man stays more than two years, his contract, his rookie contract should be shorter. And if a young man graduates, his pay scale should be higher when he comes in. Now we encourage these young people. It’s about them. You should stay because of the integrity of our school. Unless you’re Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you guys leave and go change the world. But you guys, you stay in school because it’s the integrity. It doesn’t make sense to me.
My thing is these kids are chasing their dreams just like tennis players and golfers and geniuses and computer geeks and all the others. They’re chasing their dreams the same way. And what we’ve got to do is come together and say, how do we do right by these young people? How do we make sure?
If the NBA says, no, we don’t want to shorten their contract, well, then, it’s on them. It’s not on Billy Hunter, and it’s not on the NCAA. If the NCAA says, no, we’re not going to pay for this insurance. Those kids should pay for it themselves, disability insurance. Then that’s on the NCAA.
But I think there’s some things we can do, and hopefully people will come together and say these are simple things that would encourage young people to stay in school.
Let me say this. It’s like last year. Brandon Knight. Brandon Knight was a 4.0 student and had 60 college credits after one year. He transferred in 23 honors courses, and he graduated with 60 college credits. That’s two years of work in one year. But he was the seventh pick of the draft. How could you tell him to stay?
And Detroit, the Pistons, they love him. They want him to be what their whole organization is about. So it’s not academic, and it isn’t. It’s what is right for these young people.
Anybody want to talk about this tournament we’re about to play?
Q. Back to Western for a bit. What does it tell you about a team that continues to come back from double digit deficits and also a team that’s almost playing with house money because they could just as easily be sitting at home. How dangerous are they?
COACH CALIPARI: That’s what makes them dangerous. I told my team today, if you think they’re going to stop playing with 4:39 down 16, you’re out of your mind. I just watched it. They’re not stopping.
Literally, the other games I watched, they had people‑‑ or the people had them beat. It was over. And all of a sudden, you have to go back. How did they do this? They made plays.
They just play a vicious game. Ray should be proud of them. Their community should be proud of them.