ARLINGTON, Texas — Conservative estimate: In two days here, Kentucky coach John Calipari has faced, oh, 7,459 questions from reporters that included the words “one and done.”
Calipari’s program has become synonymous with players leaving for the NBA after their freshman seasons. Fair or not, that’s a fact. (Who are we kidding? Of course it’s fair.) Calipari knows this all too well — so well that he’s attempting to introduce a new, more positive-sounding phrase into the hoops lexicon.
“Succeed and proceed,” he said.
“Succeed and proceed,” he repeated more than once. “You cannot proceed until you succeed. Succeed and then proceed.”
It was a terrific stab at clarifying his position on the matter of top recruits using — or appearing to use — Kentucky as an instant launching pad to the NBA draft lottery.
Calipari insisted he is very clear with recruits about what he thinks of the so-called one-and-done mind-set.
“[The NBA] the elephant in the room that we don’t need to talk about,” he said. “Every player that I’ve recruited — and they will tell you — I’ve said the same thing. ‘Don’t plan on coming to school for one year. You make a huge mistake. But if, after one year, you have options, that will be up to you and your family. You plan on being in school two or three years.’ ”
In other words: Succeed and proceed.
“It will be on T-shirts,” Calipari said.
Maybe not, but he gets points for trying.