"I would be glad to help the program in any way that I could. There's never been any reason to hesitate to call me for help, but the last few years I just don't think many guys felt they were a part of the program," Walker said. "Coach (Joe) Hall used to make sure he got us out in the community. Coach Hall did a lot of things behind the scenes for the community that the public did not see. So did Tubby (Smith). I think John will, too.
"With coach Hall, it was a family atmosphere. The university president would be in the dressing room after almost every game. Everybody got along. Somehow that has got changed, but now I can see John reaching out to a Dan Issel, Pat Riley or Larry Conley. Those are great resources to have around. Why not use them? I have never understood that but I think that is going to change with John."
It will. He knows numerous former UK players because of his days as head coach of the New Jersey Nets, and many called him to encourage him to take the UK job. But Calipari wants to make sure former UK stars are a visible part of the Kentucky basketball program.
I want those guys here in the summer working out. I want all the guys in the league that are playing that want to come here to Lexington and stay the summer to use these facilities any time that they want. That's good for them and us," Calipari said.
During his playing days, Kentuckian Richie Farmer was one of the most popular Cats ever. He's now the agriculture commissioner in Kentucky and remains just as popular with the UK fans he interacts with regularly. He knows Calipari was a good hire.
"He can handle himself so well and interact with media and fans so well. That is what a lot of people are looking for. He understands the enthusiasm and tradition of Kentucky basketball. I am excited to see how things progress but see no reason not to be excited with him here," Farmer said. "People here want somebody that is accessible, somebody that they can see on a daily basis."
Calipari wants that, too.
Check back tomorrow for more on this series of articles, which appeared in last month's issue of KSR, teh magazine. Sign up for Kentucky Sports Report, the magazine, today. It is filled with great articles and glossy photographs of all things Wildcats.