Lexington, Ky. (AP) -- In the era of one-and-done athletes, no
school has been more of a lightning rod than Kentucky under coach
John Calipari. Opting for the NBA doesn't mean that all those
departed Wildcats have given up on their academic careers, though.
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, Sacramento Kings
center DeMarcus Cousins and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric
Bledsoe were part of Calipari's phenomenal first class of recruits
at Kentucky who turned pro after one season. Now they're back on
campus considering using the NBA lockout as a chance to not only
workout in Lexington, but take a few classes as well.
"I want to get my education," Bledsoe said Monday before an
exhibition game against the Calipari-coached Dominican Republic
national team. "I want to do something I love doing for a living
because I know basketball isn't going to be there all my life. At
some point I'm going to have to come to a stop and find another
More than just a few NBA players have returned to school to get
their degrees. But when talking about Calipari-coached teams, the
news is usually more about who's leaving: Derrick Rose and Tyreke
Evans left Memphis when Calipari was coaching the Tigers; Wall and
Brandon Knight did the same at Kentucky.
However, Wall said graduating is still his goal.
" I'm trying to see if I can take some classes on campus, and
if the lockout ends I can finish online," he said. "I wanted to
be the first person in my family to get a college degree, although
I'm probably going to be the second one now. My sister's going to
be a sophomore, so she's ahead of me. Nobody had an opportunity to
go to college in my family."
Wall, Bledsoe and Cousins aren't the only academic-minded former
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is considering returning
to class after five seasons in the NBA, and Philadelphia 76ers
guard Jodie Meeks lacks just 12 more hours for his marketing degree
after spending the past two summers attending class at Kentucky.
"Anytime you get an opportunity to play at the next level you
should take it because you don't know how many opportunities you'll
have," Meeks said. "I think while we're still here, we're focused
on academics, and the majority of the time people come back and
Wall managed to squeeze in two semesters and two summers' worth
of classes in his lone season at Kentucky, and now he's got his eye
on a business management degree. His plan for the fall semester is
to take a few classes and stay in shape by working out with the
"It will just feel like the college life all over," he said.
"It's like I'm extending it into the NBA."
This time he and his former teammates won't have to worry about
any school officials checking on their classroom attendance records
or Calipari making them run if they miss class. They do have to get
their minds ready for class after taking a year or more off from
"I try to do other stuff when I'm off like read, but it can be
hard to get into school-mode after taking a year off," Meeks said.
"It's not too bad. It's just a little challenging, but you kind of
figure that because it's school, but I just want to finish."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)