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Coaches’ Take: Calipari Underrated, Noel Coveted

The basketball writers at CBS spent the month of June polling about 100 college basketball coaches for their views on which coaches are underrated and which players are the most coveted.  If you’re talking basketball and expecting an SEC school to pop up, the safe bet is always Kentucky.

And that was the case in CBS’ informal coaches’ poll, too.

Asked, “If you could add any one player to your team for next season, would would it be,” only two freshmen were among the top seven vote-getters.  One was Shabazz Muhammad at UCLA.  The other was UK’s Nerlens Noel, who is expected to fill Anthony Davis’ shot-blocking role in Lexington this year.  Noel was sixth on the list overall.  (First was Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller by a wide margin.)

Florida’s Patric Young and Missouri’s Phil Pressey also received votes.

The results of the next question might surprise you.

Asked, “Who is the most underrated coach in the country,” the only SEC coach listed among the top eight vote-getters was Kentucky’s John Calipari at #6.  Temple’s Fran Dunphy led the way, followed by Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s, Rick Byrd of Belmont and — brace yourself Mizzou fans — Bill Self at Kansas.

One anonymous coach summed up Calipari in much the same way we have at this site:  “Sure, he always has talent.  But he deserves some credit for being able to manage that talent.  He may not be one of the elite game-coaches in the country, but when it comes to pushing the right buttons and recruiting, there aren’t many better.”

You can bet Calipari’s name would not have been on this list in his pre-Kentucky.  Oh, he did fine work at UMass and Memphis, but the success he’s had in getting young stars to buy into a selfless system and succeed at a high, high level in Lexington has changed the way many people view the coach.  That includes this writer… and apparently some of Calipari’s peers, too.


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