Lexington, Ky. — Kentucky has agreed to a long-term contract with coach John Calipari that will allow him to finish his career with the Wildcats.
Calipari’s current deal was amended in March 2017 to run through the 2023-24 season, with a base annual salary of $8 million plus incentives. Men’s basketball spokesman Eric Lindsey confirmed Monday via text to the Associated Press that the school reached a new deal with the Hall of Fame coach but did not provide details.
The 60-year-old Calipari tweeted last month that his “plan and desire” was to retire at Kentucky. He is 305-71 in 10 seasons with Kentucky and won the 2012 NCAA championship in four Final Four appearances. The Wildcats, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost the Midwest Region final 77-71 in overtime on Sunday to third-seeded Auburn to finish the season 30-7.
Early NBA declarations
North Carolina freshman wing Nassir Little will declare for the NBA draft as expected, he announced Monday.
He is projected to go No. 7 in the NBA draft, according to NBAdraft.net. Little, a former McDonald’s all-American, had an up-and-down season but came on strong at the end. He averaged 9.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds, while also shooting 48 percent from the floor.
“I am ready now to put everything I have into being the best player I can be at the next level,” Little said in a message via Twitter and Instagram.
The Tar Heels ended their season with a 97-80 loss in the Sweet 16 to Auburn.
Little, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, was a key factor in North Carolina’s first two games of the NCAA Tournament, averaging 19.5 points per game. But he was slowed after coming down with what the team described as “flu-like symptoms” before the game against Auburn.
Little said he had trouble breathing and didn’t get much lift when he jumped.
Now North Carolina will wait for fellow freshman Coby White to make his decision. White, a 6-5, 185-pound guard from Goldsboro, is projected to go No. 5 overall if he declares. Unlike Little, White was not expected to be a one-and-done player when he came to North Carolina but played his way into consideration.
... Iowa State freshman guard Talen Horton-Tucker intends to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft after just one season with the Cyclones.
Horton-Tucker announced his decision on Twitter on Monday, saying that it’s in his best interests to “start the next chapter” of his life.
Horton-Tucker, a Chicago native, averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a game for Iowa State in 2018-19. Although he faded a bit down the stretch, Horton-Tucker’s 235-pound frame — combined with his ability to finish at the rim — could make him an intriguing pro prospect.
Belmont coach retiring
Rick Byrd, ranked 12th all-time among Division I head coaches with 805 career victories, is retiring after 33 years coaching the Belmont Bruins.
Byrd announced his decision Monday.
He led Belmont’s transition from an NAIA program to NCAA Division I where he led the Bruins to eight NCAA Tournaments in the last 14 years, including last month with the program’s first at-large berth.
Byrd, who turns 66 on April 30, led Belmont to 17 conference championships with 10 regular season and seven tournament titles since 2006, and only Gonzaga and Kansas have won more in that span. Every player who completed his eligibility under Byrd graduated with only two transfers in the past 15 years.