After one of the worst seasons in Kentucky basketball history, John Calipari dipped into the transfer pool of coaches to sign two-thirds of Illinois’ staff.
Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua, previously a key member of Calipari’s staff, and Ron Coleman have joined Kentucky’s staff, the Wildcats announced Thursday.
The moves follow Kentucky’s 9-16 season, which was the program’s first sub-.500 campaign since Eddie Sutton’s 13-19 record in 1988-89. Coupled with the program’s misses on the recruiting trail in recent years and a six-year stretch without a Final Four berth, buzz about a shake-up started soon after the season ended.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello previously reported that Antigua and Coleman were candidates to fill the voids left by Joel Justus, who went to Arizona State, and Tony Barbee, who accepted a job as head coach at Central Michigan.
Antigua is a familiar face for Calipari, having served on his staff at Memphis and Kentucky.
“I am really excited to have Orlando back,” Calipari said in a statement. “I think everyone knows what we were able to do with Orlando as a part of our staff going to the Sweet Sixteen in our final season at Memphis and making three Final Fours with a national title at Kentucky in his five seasons. But aside from our team success, he brings an uplifting spirit and a work ethic that helps create relationships that are so needed in college basketball within your own team and on the recruiting trail. All of that starts within our staff, and I am excited that he wanted to be back here with us to get our program back to where we know it needs to be.”
“Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman is in the same mold as Orlando,” Calipari said. “You are talking about another upbeat, positive coach who is going to bring the spirit that has always been a part of our culture. He has earned his stripes through hard work and building relationships around the country. Chin is a grinder, someone who relishes that time in the gym with the kids to help add value to your current players, yet he never takes his eyes off the lifeline of our program, which is recruiting.”
Illinois coach Brad Underwood praised his outgoing assistants for the impact they had on his program.
“Orlando and Chin have been instrumental in the building of this program from day one, and they deserve a lot of credit for the success that we’ve experienced,” Underwood said in a statement. “They are dear friends who I’ll miss working alongside each day, and I am grateful for the impact they’ve had on my life, which is bigger than basketball.”
Coleman and Antigua will join Jai Lucas, who arrived last summer, on Calipari’s staff for the upcoming season. Kentucky’s incoming recruiting class is ranked fifth by ESPN.
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