DeAndre Daniels Was Almost A Wildcat: ‘It Was Really Tough To Turn John Calipari Down’

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ARLINGTON, Texas – College basketball has many unexpected twists and turns, and so often a decision made far from the spotlight of the Final Four has impact that reverberates for years.

For example: What if DeAndre Daniels had chosen Kentucky instead of UConn?

“I was very close to going to Kentucky,” Daniels said, “but my family and I thought I t wasn’t the right fit for me.”

Daniels had finished up at Taft High in Los Angeles and was doing a post-grad year at IMG in Bradenton, Fla. Calipari wanted him to come to Kentucky, enroll mid-year and play right away, in January of 2011. “I didn’t feel I was ready,” Daniels said.

His recruiting was wide open. Daniels had a long list of schools that did not include UConn, but he ended up committing to the Huskies and the rest is history. But with UConn and Kentucky now playing for the national championship, fate finds Daniels and Calipari on opposite sides.

“Not a lot of people know that [Calipari] is a great person off the court,” Daniels said. “He really cares about his players, he loves his players, he’d do anything for his players. That’s what I did learn just from meeting him. It was really kind of tough to turn him down. Just like coach [Jim] Calhoun, he didn’t sugar coat anyting. He let you know how it was, that you were going to have to come in and work.

“… I never second guessed my decision.  Just always talking to my family, they’ve always led me in the right direction.”


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