John Calipari restructures Kentucky Wildcats' basketball coaching staff

Kentucky head coach John Calipari announced Friday that he is restructuring his basketball coaching staff for the upcoming season.

Joel Justus, who joined the UK staff two seasons ago as the director of analytics, will move into one of the three assistant coaching positions alongside Tony Barbee and Kenny Payne. He was seen on the recruiting trail this summer at events like the Nike Peach Jam. 

John Robic, who has served as Calipari's top assistant at three schools dating back to the 1980s, will move into the special assistant to the head coach role. He had taken a break from his normal duties this summer in order to focus on family issues. 

“I feel I have the best staff of people who surround me in the country,” Calipari said in a statement released by UK. “All are strong in areas that I’m weak. All of them understand that the relationships with our current players and working with them every single day to help them get better is the key to their success and this program. No one should look at this in any other way than me trying to shuffle our staff to put them in the best positions to succeed personally and for them to help our program remain the gold standard.

“Kenny (Payne), Tony (Barbee) and I will continue to work on putting the best incoming classes that we can together with young people who want Kentucky as bad as we want them and who understand that the program isn’t for everyone. By putting Joel where he is and having him focus on who we need to hone in on, we’ll be more prepared than we’ve ever been, which is scary. Robes will continue to focus on his strength of making us the most well-prepared team in the country and putting our kids in positions to succeed.

“I’m excited to see how the new structure of our staff improves our ability to help kids reach their dreams.”

During the 2014-15 season, Justus analyzed player and team performance, utilizing various stats and data to help develop efficient strategies through video. He developed tools that streamlined the decision-making process of the coaching staff using advanced statistical modeling and analysis.

He was elevated to special assistant to the head coach for the 2015-16 season. With his previous responsibilities remaining an active part of his duties, Justus’ role expanded to include scouting future opponents, providing strategies to help advance the program and assisting with special projects assigned by Calipari. 

“I am excited, humbled and blessed that Coach Calipari would trust and believe in me with this opportunity,” Justus said. “After two years at Kentucky and 10 previous years at the college and high-school level, I will be able to use what I have learned in this new role as assistant coach. The chance to continue to work with Coach Cal and such an esteemed staff is a dream come true. I am looking forward to contributing more as we help these young men pursue their dreams.”

In Robic’s new role, he will remain Calipari’s right-hand man. He will continue to scout future opponents, help Calipari game plan, break down film with Calipari, and carry out special projects and assignments from the head coach. Per NCAA rules, he will not be permitted to work with/instruct students on the court.

“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Cal has given me in a different role on a tremendous staff,” Robic said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to make this program the best that it can be in this new capacity. I appreciate the support I’ve been given through a tough time. My relationship – and my friendship – with Coach Cal has been a long and lasting one that’s included a lot of special moments and special teams. I’m going to do whatever I need to do to continue to help this program achieve our lofty goals, and I’m excited to continue my relationship with not only Cal but Kenny, Tony and Joel as we continue to make this place the gold standard.” 

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