Busting Brackets

Kentucky Basketball: 20 candidates to replace John Calipari as Head Coach

Mar 21, 2024; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts to a play
Mar 21, 2024; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts to a play / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 21

Call it a Sunday night cataclysmic event: John Calipari departs Kentucky after fifteen seasons to take over as head coach at Arkansas. The Razorbacks conclude their own head coaching search with one of the sport’s best coaches while the Wildcats have their own April hunt ahead.

Calipari got his coaching start more than forty years ago on staff at Kansas under Ted Owens and Larry Brown. He’s been one of the college game’s most prominent head coaches throughout his career. He notably led both UMass (1996) and Memphis (2008) to Final Fours (that were later vacated) and also had a decent tenure as head coach of the New Jersey Nets.

Known as one of the nation’s best recruiters, Calipari was hired by Kentucky in 2009 after great success at Memphis. He immediately got to work with the Wildcats, leading Kentucky to the national title in 2012 and four Final Fours in a five year span. He’s also won six SEC Tournament and regular season titles with Kentucky.

Recent seasons were less prosperous in Lexington, as Calipari’s Wildcats have won just a single game in the last five years in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats haven’t won a regular season title in four years and fell in the opening round of the Big Dance to Oakland just a few weeks ago.

There were rumors of Kentucky and Calipari parting ways a few weeks back, but this is completely different. Calipari makes the proactive move, accepting what’ll be a monster contract with sensational NIL backing and institutional support down in Fayetteville. This also leaves the Kentucky job open.

Many names will be tossed around for the Kentucky opening, and it’s certainly among the most prominent jobs in the sport. We’re going to go all out, diving into a flurry of candidates for the Wildcats. Some of these are more realistic than others; some come cheaper, some have been more successful. Each of these names will get mentioned or considered by the Wildcats, but only one will be calling the shots for Kentucky in the years to come. Let’s run through this wild list of names.