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July 7, 2011

Calipari chats about Cats, recruiting

John Calipari really must be going.

There's another game to see. Or maybe a flight to catch. Though he's no fan of the summer recruiting circuit as it's currently constructed, the Kentucky basketball coach is an active participant. And so it is that when he takes time to talk, it's usually on the move.

"Walk with me," Calipari says as he heads from the gym to the parking lot at North Central High School, site of this week's adidas Invitational. In a brief stroll with Cats Illustrated on Thursday, he talked about the summer evaluation period and a little about the team he has waiting for him in Lexington.

Question: I know you'd like to do away with some of this. Do you get something out of this evaluation period? Do you enjoy any of it?
John Calipari: I enjoy watching basketball. But, like, yesterday, I watched basketball from 8 in the morning until 10 o'clock (at night). The second thing is, I enjoy being around friends in the profession or my former (assistant) coaches or players who are now coaching. I enjoy that, so that camaraderie makes it fun. But the reality of it is, I'd rather this be done in spring and fall and do it in the school year, and have this period where we're working with our own players on our campus.

Q: Do you ever see that happening? That you'd get a chance to work with your players in the summer and the NCAA would relax that?
Calipari: Yeah, I do. I think they'll go that way. I do.

Q: How popular would that be among coaches?
Calipari: I think we want that. I think coaches want it. Let's work with our kids. If it means giving up the summer (recruiting periods) to do that, let's do that.

Q: You say you like watching basketball. What are you looking for when you watch players here?
Calipari: I want to see guys' competitive spirit. I want to see that they make other players better, stuff like that. I want to see how they interact with their coaches. Their level of competitiveness is the most important thing. Do they have skill? Are they longer? How long are they? For us, the way we play, it's not really a position. I don't care. We could have four of the same guys as long as they're long and they can guard a position. Shooting is - I'm OK if they shoot it or don't shoot it. Doesn't matter. I'd rather they be able to make something, but I'm more concerned with how they play.

Q: Last thing I'll ask you: Anthony Davis told us up at LeBron that he's up 12 pounds since he got to Lexington, maybe 25 since last summer. What's he been doing?
Calipari: He just works at it. He's getting after it. He's in the gym late at night. It's 10 o'clock at night, he's in the building. They're all (workers), that group of kids. The only thing, Kyle (Wiltjer) got sick, so he's been down for a little while. But they all - Michael (Gilchrist), all of them - are workers. That's what they want to do. They want to get better. Now I've got to figure out how I'm going to play (Davis) to keep him on the floor, because he's got to be on the floor. But so does this guy and so does that guy, so you just say, 'OK, they've all got to be out there.'

Q: What was wrong with Kyle?
Calipari: He just got sick. Had some flu.

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