After one of the worst seasons in basketball history in Kentucky, John Calipari dipped into the coaching pool to sign two-thirds of the Illinois workforce.
Illinois wizards Orlando Antigua, previously a key Calipari employee, and Ron Coleman have joined Kentucky’s staff, the Wildcats said 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 failures on the recruiting path in recent years and a six-year stretch with no Final Four berth, excitement began shortly after the season ended.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello previously reported that Antigua and Coleman were candidates to fill in the gaps left by Joel Justus, who went to the state of Arizona, and Tony Barbee, who took a job as head coach at Central Michigan .
Antigua is a familiar face for Calipari who has worked on its staff in Memphis and Kentucky.
“I’m very excited to have Orlando back,” Calipari said in a statement. “I think everyone knows what we could do with Orlando as part of our staff, who went to Sweet Sixteen our last season in Memphis and did three final fours with a national title in his five seasons in Kentucky. But other than our Er brings an uplifting spirit and work ethic that will help build the relationships that are so important in college basketball on your own team and in the recruiting journey. It all starts with our staff, and I’m glad he wanted to be Back with us to bring our program back to where we know it has to be. “
Coleman also played a key role for an Illinois team that secured a top spot in the NCAA tournament and helped Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu develop into NBA prospects.
“Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman is in the same shape as Orlando,” Calipari said. “You are talking about another upbeat, positive coach who will bring in the spirit that has always been part of our culture. He has earned his streak by working hard and building relationships across the country. Chin is a grinder, someone, who enjoys that time at the gym with the kids to add value to your current players, but he never loses sight of the lifeline of our recruiting program. “
Illinois coach Brad Underwood praised his outgoing assistants for the impact they had on his program.
“Orlando and Chin have been instrumental in building this program from day one and they deserve great credit for the success we have seen,” Underwood said in a statement. “They are dear friends that I will miss every day and I am grateful for the impact they have had on my life that is bigger than basketball.”
Coleman and Antigua will be supporting Jai Lucas, who arrived last summer, at Calipari for the upcoming season. Kentucky’s Incoming Recruiting Class is ranked fifth by ESPN.