Over this past weekend, Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari did something that has never been done in the college basketball realm. On Friday and Saturday, Calipari arranged a two-day scouting combine for NBA teams that was attended by 90 NBA scouts and front office personnel. Even though the NBA scouts are not allowed to interact with the players, Calipari made sure that his practices were designed for his team to go through combine-style drills and measurements. This raised curiosity as well as controversy, which is essentially what every innovative idea does in our society these days. To add even more excitement, Kentucky’s practice on Friday was televised on ESPNU. A program well-known for getting their players jobs in the NBA every year, this 2014-2015 Kentucky basketball roster has been projected by ESPN’s Chad Ford to have eight players being selected in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Calipari told ESPN, “All 30 teams would have been at my first week of practice anyway. This gives us a chance to control it a bit and get on with our business.”
Normally, NBA scouts would come to various practices throughout the season. This way, they can all evaluate the players during this two-day session and not be a distraction to the team during the season. Yahoo! Sports reports that Calipari will block scouts from coming to practices for some time now, giving his team time to solely focus on the upcoming season. While many see this as a genius idea, many critics view this event as a distinct recruiting advantage for Kentucky because it is essentially giving the top high school recruits the feeling that this program is their best shot to get in the NBA.
Calipari also told ESPN, “Let’s say one of the kids doesn’t show well. OK, it’s early in the season. It gives us and the NBA a base to start with. Our players will know without anyone saying anything where they are. For me, I’ll be able to talk to all these teams and tell me where I need to take each individual guy. The NBA will give me the information I need from the horse’s mouth. I don’t see the downside to doing this.”
One thing is clear, and it is that Calipari always seems to be one step ahead of his peers, which is what makes him one of the greatest coaches in college basketball right now. The coming years should be interesting to see whether or not this Pro Day scouting combine will become a common occurrence for college basketball teams like it has in college football. What do you think?