Monday, December 20, 2010

Dominican National Team Interested In Calipari (Updated)

IPRB confirmed this evening through a source who is "actively involved", that communication is on going between both sides. "There have been several conversations between people who are associated with both sides about getting John (Calipari) down there to coach the National Team. This has absolutely nothing to do with what the Puerto Rican Federation has done with Rick (Pitino). The Dominican Republic is on the verge of doing some great things and the hiring of John is something being seriously considered by both sides. Everyone knows that Orlando Antigua (Kentucky Assistant Coach) is a rising star in college coaching and a former National Team player. Orlando and several people close to Dominican Republic Basketball Federation President, Frank Herasme and Treasurer Rafael Uribe initiated contact months ago. Both sides are seriously considering this and a meeting between the two parties could happen in the next two weeks."

A number of questions remain, most importantly, what sort of deal financially can the cash strapped Dominican Federation put on the table to interest Coach Calipari or any serious coach for that matter. A current Division I college coach, who spoke to IPRB on the condition of anonymity disagrees with that premise. "Guys like Cal and Rick don't take jobs like this for the money. Guys at that level have made more money then they can spend in their lifetime so the money is not the issue. Taking this type of job doesn't hurt recruiting or prevent a coach and his staff from running an elite program. In a highly competitive recruiting environment taking a job like this increases exposure for both the coach and the program he is coaching. Most importantly, it helps to develop new recruiting contacts internationally which in today's game is a must."

Rick Pitino confirmed in a press conference today that he would basically work for free and not accept a salary from the Puerto Rican Federation.

Many in the elite youth basketball circuit believe that the Dominican Republic is an under valued market with tons of talent but lacking in both structure and capital. Said a shoe company executive who works in elite basketball," The Dominican Republic and Colombia are the two markets that have the most raw talent in the region. Their prospects are bigger and more athletic than other countries in the region but both countries lack a system that identifies, nurtures and develops elite prospects. A big time coach and development program funded by one of the "big three" apparel companies could change that pretty quickly."

Whether Calipari or the Federation agree to move forward there will surely be other coaches interested in taking the DR job given the current pool of talent and recruiting upside.