We're only about a month into the never-ending college hoops offseason, past the NCAA's new May 8 early-entry deadline, and already things are starting to quiet down. There are no more decisions to agonize over. The coaching carousel has stopped spinning. We've achieved something resembling stasis.
The good news, at least for those of us responsible for writing something about college basketball every day? There is still John Calipari. Unintentionally or not, Calipari -- and by extension, his Kentucky Wildcats -- never fail to find the spotlight; somehow, some way, something always seems to be happening in Lexington, whether real or not. This weekend was no different. A quick rundown:
The biggest story of the day -- maybe in all of sports -- is the Chicago Tribune report that William "Worldwide" Wesley, the shadowy basketball power broker that allegedly maintains a relationship with John Calipari and LeBron James, has been calling NBA teams and informing them that Calipari and James could be a package deal in James' free-agent recruitment this summer. Calipari has shot down rumors of his interest in the NBA already this offseason, tweeting Friday that he "will be coaching at Kentucky this year." Likewise, Calipari has already responded to today's Wes-related rumor with an incredulous non-denial denial. Regardless of his response, it's hard to imagine Wesley reaching out to NBA teams on behalf of Calipari without some interest on Calipari's end, but until something actually happens, the rumor is nothing more than just that: rumor. An overlooked part of all this is what happens in college hoops if Calipari does leave. Kentucky is one of the country's premier jobs, and would be searching for a coach in a supremely late part of the carousel calendar. How those dominoes fell -- which coach would take the job, who would replace the newly departed guy, and so on -- would make the offseason infinitely more interesting. (And about 2,000 times more stressful for UK fans.)
Update: Andy Katz talked with a source this morning that denied the package deal rumor and said that Calipari might be hesitant to jump to the NBA with LeBron as a package deal because of the perception that Calipari needed LeBron to get an NBA job. The motto here: Who knows? (The answer: no one.)
In the meantime, Calipari has a pretty good team taking shape for 2010-11. You knew this already. What's new here is that Kentucky added junior college transfer Eloy Vargas to the fold this weekend, making Calipari's 2010 recruiting haul all the more impressive. Vargas played for Florida as a freshman and could be a quality contributor. He was the No. 14-ranked power forward in the class of 2008.
Oh, and one more thing: In the annals of rivalry T-shirts, this Louisville original insulting Kentucky's academic woes in the Wildcats' first year under John Calipari does a pretty good job. It's clever, it's well-designed, and until Kentucky boosts its game in the classroom, it has the added benefit of being true. (The T-shirt, in case you're wondering, says "UK2.0K", a reference to Kentucky's ugly 2009-10 team GPA and the UK2K shirts Cats fans sported in 2009 after they became the first program in the history of college basketball to reach 2,000 wins.) Now it's Kentucky fans' turn to fire back. Might I suggest something related to Marquis Teague? Louisville fans will pretend it doesn't, but it's got to sting.
OK. I think that just about covers it. Back to your regularly scheduled non-Kentucky-related programming.