Is producing draft picks more important than winning national titles?

05/22/2015 08:41 PM

LEXINGTON — In the immortal words of Al Davis, “Just win, baby.”

That’s the main concern of most coaches at any level of athletic competition — but apparently not at the University of Kentucky.

UK head coach John Calipari created some national buzz on Wednesday during his acceptance speech of the Alltech Humanitarian Award at Rupp Arena when he said the primary goal at Kentucky last season was not to win another national title but rather to help produce a record eight NBA Draft picks.

“It all starts with players first,” Calipari said after receiving the award for his accomplishments in positively influencing and inspiring others through charitable endeavors. “Their dreams become our dreams.

“Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think that goal was to win the national title! Win all the games! It was to get eight players drafted.

“‘Well, how can you be about your team if you’re worried about players getting drafted?’ Well, we kind of work it the other way. What are you dreams? What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life? How can we help you with that?”

“The winning, the losing, is not personal to me.”

In support of his statement, Calipari cited the 26 former Wildcats who’ve reached NBA status during his six years in Lexington — more than any other Division I program.

His comments created a stir online, generating criticism for not placing an emphasis on finishing the past season as the first undefeated team to win the national championship since in nearly 40 years (Indiana, 1975-76).

Kentucky, of course, came up short when it lost to Wisconsin in the final four after a record 38-0 start.

But this isn’t a new mantra for the leader of Big Blue Nation.

Calipari has famously said multiple times that the biggest day in the in Kentucky basketball history was not the victory of any of its eight national titles — it was having a record five players selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, a mark the Cats could tie or surpass this year after seven players left early to declare for the pros.

KSTV discussed the trending topic on Friday’s show, explaining the real message behind Calipari’s comments that most detractors are missing.

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