LEX 18 True Blue Coverage

Jun 29, 2012 12:10 PM by Mike Maharrey

Coach Cal Calls UK Program A Dream Maker

Coach Cal calls the University of Kentucky basketball program a "dream maker."

Thursday night, NBA teams picked up a record-setting six UK players. And for the first time in NBA history, players from the same team went one-two in the draft when New Orleans took Anthony Davis with the No.1 pick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went to Charlotte at No. 2.

"When we talk about a players-first program, we're talking about nights like last night. Everything we do is to help these young men realize and reach their dreams," Calipari said in a post on his website.

When Cal talks about the program making dreams come true, it's hard to argue with his record. Consider this: since Calipari took over the program, every regular starter and every sixth man got drafted by an NBA team. As Cal points out, it's not just about dreams coming true for the players, but their families as well.

"We changed the lives of the families of those six young men. Those families will never be the same after Thursday. Yeah, we're trying to hang banners and compete for championships every year, but in a players-first program, it's about helping those young men pursue their dreams and helping them create new lives for their mothers, their fathers, their brothers and their sisters," Calipari said. "When I saw the looks on the faces of Anthony's and Michael's parents, I knew we did that."

Cal also emphasized some academic successes.

"We had 10 players this last semester with a 3.0 average or better. Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas graduated, joining Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Mark Krebs and Josh Harrellson as four-year graduates. Patrick Patterson got his degree in three years," he said.

Calipari certainly has his critics. Some pundits write off UK as nothing but an NBA training ground and others complain that his approach to coaching tarnishes the integrity of the college game. Even some Cat fans expressed displeasure when Calipari claimed rhat the night five UK players got drafted was "the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history." Cal takes issue with his critics and defends his priorities.

Some of you didn't like that," Cal said of his comments after that first big draft class. "But look what it did for us. We won the national championship this year because we've made this program about those kids. We continued that Thursday night by putting another six guys in the league.This isn't about being a minor-league system for the NBA. It's about being dream makers. It's about changing cycles in families' lives. It's about preparing these young people for life after basketball."

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