Connect with us

Men's Basketball

John Calipari Says Zvonimir Ivisic Is Suffering Mentally Amidst Eligibility Case, Criticizes NCAA

Published

on

John Calipari coaching Kentucky big man Zvonimir Ivisic at Kentucky Basketball practice.

Zvonimir Ivisic arrived in Lexington 71 days ago, with the understanding that he would have the file to be eligible with the NCAA, but also the expectation that he would be available to play fairly soon. Once thought to be the first seven-footer Kentucky would have in the lineup with Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso still recovering from offseason injuries, he has still not been cleared by the NCAA.

According to John Calipari, it’s starting to take a toll on Ivisic mentally and physically.

“All that he’s been through — He was 242 (pounds). He went down to 219. Not sleeping, struggling to eat. You know what I am saying,” Calipari said. This comes after Ivisic, on Wednesday, said he would be going home for Christmas, which Calipari says he is good with. “The best thing for him, not for me. He needs to get home. He needs to be around his family.”

Advertisement

Ivisic will return in time for the Illinois State game next Friday, and Calipari says they hope to hear something by then. However, chances are slim to none that will happen as the NCAA Eligibility Center is closed until January 2nd.

That said, Ivisic’s eligibility case is now past the point of frustration, it is unfair to a young man who clearly wants to be a part of the Kentucky program. At this point, the hold-up seems to be the amateurism aspect. According to the NCAA, to receive an amateurism certificate, an athlete cannot receive money that exceeds “actual and necessary expenses.”

That is a broad rule and one that does not fit in the current collegiate athletics landscape with NIL.

“You do know juniors/seniors make hundreds of thousands in high school. High school,” Calipari stated. “‘Well, it’s stated different’. Stop it. That’s why we are in this position. The Supreme Court and every court says no, you can’t do it that way.”

Advertisement

Ivisic is not the first international player to seek NCAA eligibility in the NIL, but the vast majority have been cleared. For example, just look at UCLA who brought in Aday Mara (Spain) and Berke Buyuktuncel (Turkey) this offseason, who have both since been cleared.

Both played for European club teams, had agents, and received money. Mara specifically was even sued by his former club team for breach of contract, seeking a $608,000 exit fee.

The best case scenario is that Ivisic is cleared. Even if he is denied, there is some belief that Kentucky would sue the NCAA. However, nothing can be done until an answer is given one way or another. The further Ivisic’s case goes without an answer, the less likely it is that he will play for Kentucky.

Until then, we can only hope.

Advertisement

Free Big Z.

Men's Basketball

Rick Pitino Endorses Mark Pope, “He Will Lead The Kentucky Wildcats To Another Championship”

Published

on

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports/ Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The captain of Rick Pitino’s 1996 “Untouchables”, Mark Pope, is “coming home” to lead the Kentucky Wildcats as the program’s next head coach, officially announced on Friday. While there has been some criticism of the hire, Pitino says he “couldn’t be any prouder to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats.”

While Pope has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in two appearances, Pitino points out that several top coaches had their trials early in their careers. It took Jay Wright 11 seasons to win his first NCAA Tournament, and Billy Donovan was hired at Florida without an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, he heralds Pope as one of the “premier young coaches” in college basketball.

“Offensively, no one does it better,” Pitino said. “The way his teams move. The way his teams shoot the three. The ball movement. It’s outstanding.”

Advertisement

It’s just the X’s and O’s though, Pitino “guarantees” that Pope loves and understands the program as well as anyone. “I can guarantee to you one thing, that nobody epitomizes the name on the front of the jersey more than Mark Pope.”

“Mark Pope will go on to greatness. You can put it down,” Pitino said. “He will do you proud. “He will lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship”

If his endorsement isn’t enough, Rick Pitino says he will “write the check himself” for NIL to help Pope be successful.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

Mark Pope Releases Statement As He Is Announced As Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per UK Athletics

When his alma mater came calling, Mark Pope knew there was no place like home.

Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, has returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program, announced Friday.

Advertisement

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said. “It’s the definition of a blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year. Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran with stops at BYU and Utah Valley, amassing a 187-108 career record. His squads won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons and he has made six postseason appearances.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

REPORT: Mark Pope Set Sign Five-Year Deal to Become Next Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has found their guy. Former Wildcat and NCAA Champion, Mark Pope, is now expected to be named the next Kentucky basketball coach on a five-year contract worth $5.5 million annually, first reported by CBS Sports. For perspective, based on last season’s salaries, that is more than Dan Hurley (UConn), Scott Drew (Baylor), and Nate Oats (Alabama).

Pope comes to Kentucky with nine seasons of head coaching experience, after serving as an assistant for six seasons, from 2009-2015. In 2015, he was hired by Utah Valley where he coached for four seasons. In 2019, Pope was hired at BYU where he has taken them to two NCAA Tournaments, but has been upset by a double-digit seed in both appearances.

Pope has proven himself as a good X-and-O coach in his nine-year career, running one of the most innovative offenses in the country, but recruiting will be a real test as he has never signed a four-star recruit. Who he hires on to his staff and collecting NIL support will be critical.

Advertisement

The move has been met with much fan criticism, as fans have been quick to point out that Pope has never won a conference title or an NCAA Tournament game. However, Mitch Barnhart is confident in the move, with some reporting that he is “excited” with the hire.

Just three days into the coaching search, this is an interesting hire with several big names like Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl potentially available. Barnhart made the decision not to wait for Donovan, who is currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, and Pearl was not considered due to his “baggage”.

A new era of Kentucky basketball has begun.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending