Calipari doesn’t expect Cats to depend on transfers in the future


Keith Taylor

Kentucky coach John Calipari has stocked next year’s roster with transfers but doesn’t think that will be a trend for his team in the future.

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON (KT) — Most of Kentucky’s roster will be stocked with transfers next season but coach John Calipari doesn’t think that will become a trend in the future.

“Thank goodness that we could tap into that market (last year), but it’s not something that we’re saying that we’re just going to live by,” Calipari said Friday.

For the second straight season, at least three or more experienced players have transferred to Kentucky via the transfer portal. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kellan Grady, CJ Fredrick and Sahvir Wheeler will give the Wildcats experience next season in a time in which adding transfers was the best option for Calipari and his staff.

“This is a different place for that but this year it’s good. I’m not sure where it will go going forward but we’ll be evaluating,” Calipari said. 

According to Calipari, at least six players from more than 130 programs had entered the transfer portal two weeks ago and said that number may have risen because of the popularity of the portal.

“… It’s almost like, ‘Who’s going to do it? OK, I understand. Now who are we getting?’” he said. “Four years ago, if five players transferred from a team, everybody would go crazy. ‘The program is crumbling.’ Well, 150 programs are crumbling.”

The recent rise in transfers has created an immediate adjustment for college coaches.

As the NCAA, we have to be able to be nimble and pivot with all this stuff we’re doing that’s changing the game, you can’t have it take two years,” Calipari said. “To change something that had unintended consequences, whether it’s the portal, whether it’s name, image and likeness, we may need to turn on a dime right now.

“It’s like you’re on an aircraft carrier. Need to be on a speed boat the next three years because we don’t know where any of this stuff is going. And we’re guessing, I’m guessing like everybody else, and my thoughts are always going to be three or four years out, what this looks like. With all the leagues and all the stuff and all the transfers and the change of this change in my staff, how do we take advantage? How do we stay the gold standard in all this?”

Calipari added he is hopeful the Southeastern Conference will waive its current rule that requires transfers to sit out a season before becoming eligible.

“The whole entire country is giving these kids the ability to transfer wherever and every league has, I can’t imagine we’d be able to do anything different,” he said.


Calipari hinted that Keion Brooks is expected to return for a third season with the Wildcats.

Brooks hasn’t made an official announcement regarding his future, but is scheduled to be available for interviews during the team’s camp appearance on June 4 in Elizabethtown. 

“Lance (Ware) and Keion are going to be big players for us,” Calipari said. “… this should be Keion’s year. He’s that veteran that you’re saying, ‘you’ve got to be the center of this.’”

Calipari said the players are scheduled to report back to campus Friday,

“We’ll have a team full of guys to get ready for what we’re doing,” he said.


Isaiah Jackson has decided to remain in the NBA Draft.

The University of Kentucky freshman forward will forgo his final three years of eligibility after he declared for the draft leaving an option to return two months go. Jackson is considered a possible lottery pick in the July 29 draft.

“The journey is not over, but it is time to take the next path,” he said. “I am going to be signing with CAA and will be forgoing my remaining college eligibility to fully prepare for my professional career.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari supported Jackson’s decision to declare for the draft.

“I’m happy for Isaiah and his family,” Calipari said. “Seeing his growth this season was amazing. His metrics are off the charts. Whoever drafts Isaiah is going to get an unbelievable defender who can guard multiple positions and protect the rim. 

“Offensively, we saw his game really start to take off at the end of the season. The team that gets Isaiah is going to be surprised because he has only begun to scratch the surface on who he is going to be as a player. I can’t wait to see what he does at that next level. We wish him well.”

As a freshman last season, Jackson averaged 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while appearing in 25 games. He blocked 65 shots and averaged 2.6 rejections per contest.

Former Kentucky players Brandon Boston Jr. and Olivier Sarr also have declared for the draft, while Davion Mintz has until July 7 to make a final determination on his future.