Is ESPN’s ‘All-Access Kentucky’ show a recruiting tool for John Calipari?
In a developing story that should surprise literally no one, ESPN’s new “All-Access Kentucky” show has caused a stir among college basketball coaches, analysts and fans. The new reality show, which has aired two episodes, documents Kentucky’s preparation for an upcoming season in which they will defend their NCAA title. But is it fair?
Kentucky coach John Calipari says he agreed to the show because he wanted to try to disspel the negative perception that accompanies one-and-done players. At Southeastern Conference Basketball Media Day on Thursday, Florida coach Billy Donovan said the show is a distraction and possibly a recruiting tool.
“I wouldn’t want the disruption of our guys knowing there is something going on right now and how that would impact what we need to get done,” Donovan said according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “… I do think if you are using it as a recruiting tool, I don’t think that’s right. … I wouldn’t do it as a recruiting tool because you are in practice with players who are in our program right now, you are practicing with your guys.”
Other SEC coaches like Mississippi State’s Rick Ray have no objection to the show and believe it could be beneficial to the SEC in general, since recruits will also want to play against Kentucky as their program gains exposure. SEC Commissioner Mike Silve said Kentucky earned the right to be on the show by winning a national championship, and that he hopes any other SEC team who won one would also be featured. We know that’s not the case.
As Gary Parrish of Eye on College Basketball mentioned, recruits know they are going to throw themselves into the spotlight if they choose Kentucky. The same is not true of schools like Ohio State, Michigan State or Louisville, and the show reaffirms that.
While it may not have directly impacted any high schooler’s decision about their future, “All-Access Kentucky” certainly helps maintain and strengthen Kentucky’s position as a national powerhouse and the most high-profile program in the nation. What college player doesn’t want to play for a guy who is friends with Jay-Z, has six NBA draft prospects on one team and has his own TV show? Not to mention, they would get to live in these incredible dormitories.
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