LEXINGTON — Brad Calipari will finish his collegiate career away from home.
Calipari, son of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, has decided to transfer to Detroit Mercy as a graduate transfer and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Brad admitted the decision wasn’t an easy one.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to make a major impact on the court on the college level and I believe the best opportunity to do that is at the University of Detroit Mercy,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this position without being at Kentucky. I’ve grown so much over the years going against the best college basketball players in the nation and also having the best coaching staff. I want to thank the assistants – Kenny, Tony, Joel and Robes – my brothers, and of course, my dad for pushing me to be the best version of myself.”
Calipari said his father’s decision to coach at Kentucky 10 years ago made an impact on his life.
“Ten years ago my life completely changed when my dad took the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky,” he said. “I became part of a family. I didn’t know it then, but it became part of something that would define who I am and who I want to be. During my time at Kentucky, I’ve grown from a kid to a man. I got in the gym and earned that opportunity a few years ago and I’ve had the privilege of putting on that Kentucky jersey for the last three years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Calipari has been part of his dad’s squad at Kentucky for the past three years and appeared in 27 games in the first two years before taking a redshirt last year. John Calipari was happy with his son’s decision.
“At the end of the year, each of our players has an opportunity to explore their options and find out what opportunities they have,” John Calipari said. “I didn’t believe Brad should be treated any different. I’m proud of the fact that he graduated in three years and gave himself this opportunity to play the next two seasons either here or at another university. He’s worked really hard and he’s gained the respect of our players because of his work ethic, his drive, his commitment to the game and his skills, so he’s had my full support throughout this process.”
Brad Calipari went through the transfer process on his own and explored his options, narrowing the choices to Detroit and Hampton.
“I did not attend any visits with him because I wanted this to be about him and his decision,” John Calipari said. “He came to Kentucky understanding it would be hard to earn minutes because of the level of players here, but he also knew it was his best opportunity to get better every day and to push himself. He always said he may go into coaching one day, which is one of the reasons he decided to come to Kentucky. Now he’s doing what’s best for him and hoping to benefit from the work he’s put in to where he has the opportunity to earn minutes and to play with other really good players and for a good coach.”
That coach is former Indiana University head coach Mike Davis, now in his second season at Detroit Mercy. Davis guided the Hoosiers to the national championship game in 2002 and also spent six years at Texas Southern, where the Tigers made four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
"I’ve coached against Mike and know him well. I have great respect for him as a coach and as a leader of young people,” John Calipari said. “I know Brad leaves here with great feelings for our fans and for how he’s been treated, and Ellen and I truly appreciate how he’s been supported. It’s not easy being the coach’s son, especially at a place like Kentucky, but our fans really embraced him. I’m really looking forward to following Brad’s career at Detroit. Proud of you, son.”
Brad Calipari thanked Big Blue Nation for their support through the process.
“Although I’ll be playing my final two seasons elsewhere, this place will always be important to me,” he said. “Thank you, and go Big Blue.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.