College basketball: UK gets permission to contact Calipari
LEXINGTON, Ky. ó Memphis gave Kentucky permission Monday 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’ key boosters met with Calipari on Monday. 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 Monday afternoon. Asked afterward if they had a new coach, senior Jared Carter said, “I think so.” Asked if it was Calipari, Carter shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”
Several other Kentucky players, including stars Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson, were escorted by university staffers and did not comment after leaving the Joe Craft Center.
Calipari met with Memphis players Monday 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, which fired Billy Gillispie on Friday, is ready to move on after two frustrating seasons. It went right to work Monday, 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.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ó When Anthony Grant was weighing the opportunity to become a groundbreaking coach at Alabama, he talked to another pioneer figure on campus.
Wendell Hudson, the Crimson Tide’s first black scholarship athlete and women’s basketball coach, gave him a big thumbs-up. After all, after last year’s election of President Barack Obama, then perhaps Alabama was ready for a black coach to lead the men’s basketball team.
“We talked about his experiences here and the passion he has for this university, being the first African-American player to be recruited by the University of Alabama and his belief that this is the perfect time to come into this situation and make a difference,” Grant said of Hudson. “When you look at what our country has experienced within this past year, the change that’s taken place throughout our nation, it’s not lost on me and it’s extremely humbling.
“I look at it as I have a tremendous responsibility to honor the efforts, the sacrifices, the dedication of those that have come before me. And I’ll be eternally grateful for that.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Florida guard Nick Calathes could end his college career without playing a single game in the NCAA tournament.
Calathes announced he will enter the NBA draft. He will not hire an agent, which would allow him to return to Florida if he’s unhappy with his stock.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore was the only player in the nation to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.
WASHINGTON ó Georgetown junior DaJuan Summers is skipping his senior year and making himself eligible for the NBA draft.
John Thompson III said Summers is “in the process of choosing an agent.”
STATESBORO, Ga. ó Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price has quit after the Eagles went 8-22 this season. He had a record of 165-133 during his 10 years at the school.
NEW YORK ó Notre Dame faces Penn State in the NIT semifinals tonight. San Diego State and Baylor play in the other semifinal.
“I’m glad we don’t have to play any Big East teams here,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, sounding not the least bit sarcastic. “Penn State could kick our butt, but I’m glad I don’t have to see any Big East teams here.”