John Calipari gives honest take on state of Arkansas basketball: ‘There is no team’

Coach Cal had some jokes. 

John Calipari, the new Arkansas men’s basketball head coach, poked some fun at the current state of the roster he’s taking over — which, if you aren’t aware, has just one player on it going into next season. 

John Calipari answers questions from reporters after being introduced as Arkansas men’s basketball coach. AP

“I’m jacked about another opportunity. I’m like, let’s go,” he started off saying. “Now, I’ve met with the team. There is no team. [Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek] is extremely confident, but got to get a roster together. And some of it is a little bit of everything, but we will. It may take a little longer.” 

Calipari, who is departing Kentucky after 15 years, has a tough challenge ahead of him as he takes over the Razorbacks coaching job after Eric Musselman left to take over the head coaching gig at USC

Senior forward Lawson Blake is the only player listed on the Arkansas roster after the 2023-24 team was stacked with nine seniors. 

Freshmen Baye Fall and Layden Blocker and sophomore Keyon Menifield all entered the transfer portal. 

Leading scorer, junior Tramon Mark, also entered the transfer portal this spring. 

John Calipari leaves the stage after being introduced as Arkansas men’s basketball coach. AP

“We’ve got work to do, and the only thing that I want to tell you is I’m not that guy that has a magic wand,” Calipari told reporters about his strategy to build the roster, according to Hawgbeat

“That’s not who I am. I’m the grinder that comes every day. When you watch my team from the beginning to the end of the year, you say ‘Wow, they got better.’ Individual players got better. They become a better team to put them in the best position.”

The school officially also introduced Calipari as the new head coach of the men’s basketball program to an enthusiastic crowd at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night. 

John Calipari poses with Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek as he is introduced to the fans and the media at Bud Walton Arena. Getty Images

Billionaire chicken magnate John Tyson, who is a major Arkansas booster, was given a standing ovation during the press conference after playing a significant role in getting Calipari to Fayetteville. 

Calipari had led the Kentucky Wildcats to a 410-123 record under his watch and helped them win a national title in 2012.

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