John Calipari Refrains from Restocking Arkansas Roster: ‘They’re Leaving Anyway’ via Transfer Portal

Newly appointed men’s basketball head coach John Calipari has outlined a distinct approach for the Arkansas roster, contrasting his strategy with his tenure at Kentucky. In a conversation with former Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson on their podcast Ways to Win, Calipari revealed his intention to begin the 2024-25 season with a limited roster of “eight or nine guys” with the Razorbacks.

Calipari justified this decision by pointing out the prevalent trend of player transfers, stating, “They’re leaving anyway, and why would I develop a kid for someone else? Why would I do that?” He indicated that this philosophy is gaining traction among college coaches as transfer portal activity continues to rise. “I’m hearing a lot of guys are saying eight or nine guys,” Calipari remarked, emphasizing that any additional players would be aware of their role as reserves.

To supplement the practice squad, Calipari proposed recruiting graduate assistant coaches with recent playing experience, particularly those who have competed professionally in Europe. “We can use them in practice,” he explained, drawing inspiration from the practice structures of women’s programs that utilize non-scholarship players for scrimmages.

Despite the departure from his former approach at Kentucky, Calipari has already begun shaping the Arkansas roster with notable transfers such as Adou Thiero and Zvonimir Ivisic from his previous program. Additional commitments from Johnell Davis of Florida Atlantic and Jonas Aidoo of Tennessee highlight Calipari’s efforts to bolster the team’s lineup.

Furthermore, Arkansas is set to welcome a trio of highly touted freshmen, including Boogie Fland, Karter Knox, and Billy Richmond, all of whom were originally slated for Kentucky. While Calipari acknowledges the potential challenge of a smaller bench depth compared to his tenure at Kentucky, he remains optimistic about the incoming class’s ability to succeed.

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