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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Former Tigers Interested in Calipari Staff Positions

Former Tigers interested in coaching roles
Calipari lets players know he's willing to help them join ranks

By Jim Masilak, Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 24, 2006

Nathaniel Root isn't sure whether he'll be given the opportunity to join John Calipari's staff at the University of Memphis. But the former Tiger basketball player certainly is pleased to be under consideration -- even if it is for an entry-level position that promises little pay and long hours.

With as many as three positions to fill following the departure of Tony Barbee and Milt Wagner to Texas-El Paso and Ryan Miller to Pepperdine, Calipari has been reaching out to a number of former Memphis players to gauge interest in at least one of the vacant positions. Calipari has met with Root and fellow former Tigers Marcus Moody and Shyrone Chatman in regard to the opening left by Miller, who served the past three seasons as assistant coordinator of basketball operations.

"I thought it was good of him," Root said. "I don't know what's gonna happen or what he's gonna do with it. But I think it's a good thing when you look to your former players first and, if they're not interested, then you look elsewhere."

Whether he gets the job or not, Moody, like Root an aspiring college coach, was pleased to get some face time with Calipari.

"I just think it's a good thing he's giving former players an opportunity," said Moody, a third-year assistant at Overton High. "It's definitely something I'm interested in. If you want to coach at the Division 1 level, you're gonna have to start low and work your way up."

Chatman, who's working for TennCare in the Tennessee Department of Human Services, said he was "honored to be considered for the position and that coach Cal had me in mind."

"It's something I'd be interested in because it's a chance to get back into something I've been doing all my life," Chatman said.

Calipari said he isn't quite sure what he's going to do with the position.

"I may be able to help one of those guys. I'm trying to figure out how we can do that," he said. "If all three of them want to be coaches some day, whether it's with us, with Tony and Milt at UTEP or with (former Tiger assistant Steve Roccaforte at Lamar), we'd all like to give those guys an opportunity to get in the profession."

Root understands that opportunity -- at first, anyway -- is more likely to involve scouting and compiling highlight videos than going on the road and recruiting as a full-time assistant.
"You're not gonna start off making millions," Root said. "You've got to pay your dues. When I started playing ball there, I paid my dues. After a couple years, he (Calipari) gave me a scholarship.

"I think this is something I'm ready to handle and take on."

-- Jim Masilak: 529-2311

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