LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — A familiar face returned to the Kentucky coaching staff on Thursday.
Former assistant coach Orlando Antigua reunited with John Calipari and will fill one of two coaching vacancies on the staff next season. Antigua was part of Calipari’s staff in his first five seasons with the Wildcats.
“I am really excited to have Orlando back,” Calipari said. “I think everyone knows what we were able to do with Orlando as a part of our staff going to the Sweet Sixteen in our final season at Memphis and making three Final Fours with a national title at Kentucky in his five seasons. But aside from our team success, he brings an uplifting spirit and a work ethic that helps create relationships that are so needed in college basketball within your own team and on the recruiting trail. All of that starts within our staff, and I am excited that he wanted to be back here with us to get our program back to where we know it needs to be.”
Antigua spent the past four seasons on Brad Underwood’s staff at Illinois and was coach at South Florida for three years after leaving Kentucky.
“We created some unforgettable memories and took the program to new heights that we can all be proud of,” Antigua said. “I will never forget my time at Illinois and I want to thank everyone who welcomed my family and I to a wonderful place. With that said, I am excited to be headed back to Lexington. This game has blessed me with so many amazing opportunities, but the chance to work at Kentucky again, a program where we built a lot of special memories, is one I am grateful for.”
In addition to Antigua, Calipari lured Ronald “Chin” Coleman from Illinois. Coleman also has coached at UIC, Bradley, Nebraska and Colorado State.
“We must accept the end of something in order to begin something new, special and different,” Coleman said.” To that end, I want to thank everyone at Illinois for the opportunity I was afforded the last four years. It was truly an honor, and I am proud of the success we achieved together. It takes courage to grow and become who you really are, and having the opportunity to coach at the University of Kentucky, work for John Calipari and be a member of Big Blue Nation is a dream come true.”
Underwood said Antigue and Coleman were an integral part of the Illini’s success during the past four seasons.
“Orlando and Chin have been instrumental in the building of this program from day one, and they deserve a lot of credit for the success that we’ve experienced. They are dear friends who I’ll miss working alongside each day, and I am grateful for the impact they’ve had on my life, which is bigger than basketball. All the best to Coach O and Coach Chin from the Fighting Illini.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.