After one of the worst seasons in Kentucky basketball history, John Calipari dipped into the transfer pool of coaches to sign two-thirds of Illinois’ staff.
Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua, formerly a key member of Calipari’s staff and Ron Coleman affiliated with Kentucky’s staff, announced the Wildcats 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. Combined with the program’s misses on the recruiting track in recent years and a six-year stretch without the Final Four berth, the buzz started about a shake-up shortly after the season ended.
Antigua is a familiar face to Calipari after serving with his staff in Memphis and Kentucky.
“I’m really 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 that was going to the Sweet Sixteen last season in Memphis and make three Final Fours with a national title in Kentucky in its five seasons. But apart from our team success, he brings an uplifting spirit and a work ethic that helps create relationships that are so necessary in college basketball within your own team and on the recruiting track.All this starts in our staff and I’m excited about that he would be here with us to get our program back where we know it should be. “
Coleman also played a key role for an Illinois team that secured a top seed 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’re talking about another positive, positive coach who will bring the spirit that has always been a part of our culture. He has earned his stripes through hard work and building relationships around the country. Hagen is a grinder, a who enjoys the time in the gym with the kids to help add value to your current players, yet he never takes his eyes off 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 experienced,” Underwood said in a statement. “They are dear friends that I miss working together every day, and I am grateful for the impact they have had on my life, which is greater than basketball.”
Coleman and Antigua join Jai Lucas, who arrived last summer, in Calipari’s staff for the upcoming season. Kentucky’s incoming recruiting class is ranked fifth by ESPN.