In case you were not at Rupp Arena last night, the above sequence pretty much sums up the evening. John Wall slams home two of his 40 points and Anthony Davis heaves a 65 foot “three pointer” at the buzzer. The second annual Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Alumni game nearly filled up Rupp Arena and in the process, raised $1,005,000 for charity.
It was a love affair for all things Kentucky basketball and even veteran NBA coaches like Del Harris really had not seen anything like it before:
Monday night at Rupp Arena marked a first for Harris, who estimated that he’s watched about 4,000 games in a coaching career that spans five decades. In all that heap of hoops, he’d never seen anything like the 2013 UK Alumni Charity Game. Kentucky fans filled a lot of Rupp’s cavernous space on a Sept. 9 to watch … what?
“To watch a bunch of guys they’ve loved as Wildcat players just (pause) fool around is amazing,” Harris said.
Two stats explained the fooling around: the former players launched 57 three-point shots and took just 12 free throws. To put the fantasy in this finale of the John Calipari Fantasy Experience, the official boxscore showed that no Kentucky player was whistled for a foul. (Don’t ask how that gibes with 12 free-throw attempts. We’re talking fantasy here.)
At one point, Harris heard an assistant coach, Butch Carter, ask what the team should do.
Recalling the moment, Harris smiled and said he replied, “Nothing, really.”
A big, noticeably enthusiastic crowd did not surprise John Wall, who led the “winning” Blue team with 40 points.
“It’s the state of basketball,” he said of Kentucky. “So it’s not surprising to me,”
The big winner of course was the 17 charities which benefited. Here is a rundown of who got the funds, courtesy of the Herald Leader.
The breakdown was $50,000 for each of the following: 4 Paws for Ability, City House, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Hope for the Warriors, Hope House, Kentucky Army National Guard, Red Cross for the Bluegrass, Samaritan’s Feet, Team Focus, the Lexington Chapter of the Urban League and Kids 2 Camp. There were $100,000 donations to EverFi and Starkey Hearing Foundation, another $200,000 to Street Ministries, $25,000 to UK Healthcare, $20,000 to the Louisville Zoo and $10,000 to Save the Children.
The Courier Journal provided another look at the festivities above and also gave more details of the play on the court.
John Wall’s triple-double led the Blue team to a 111-95 win over Brandon Knight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis’ White team.
Wall did not disappoint, delivering 40 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds and an array of highlight-reel dunks. He said former teammate Eric Bledsoe told him “I wouldn’t go for 40, so I just tried to get 40.”
Wall and Kidd-Gilchrist – who finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals – had several back-and-forth flurries that brought the crowd to its feet.
Wall slammed off a steal, so Kidd-Gilchrist jammed following an offensive board. Wall threw down a 360-degree dunk, so Kidd-Gilchrist slashed to the bucket on the baseline. Later, he intercepted Wall’s attempted bounce-pass alley oop to Patrick Patterson and threw a lob to a teammate for a slam. Then Wall and Kidd-Gilchrist traded threes. On and on it went.
Davis, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and just one of his signature blocks, also found a way to dazzle: he flung in two buzzer-beaters at the end of the first and second quarters, the latter on a nonchalant half-court heave. Knight poured in 30 points, 20 after halftime, to go with seven assists.
If things go as expected this year, look for Julius Randle (and others) to take part in the third annual Alumni game. ESPN’s Chad Ford just released a NBA Mock Draft for 2014 and has Julius Randle as the number two pick in the way too far in the future NBA Draft.
Analysis: Like the 76ers, the Suns feel they have their big man (Alex Len) and their point guard (Eric Bledsoe) of the future. Randle would be a perfect complement to Len on the front line. He’s the type of versatile 4 that most teams covet. He possesses virtually every attribute scouts look for in a prospect. The Suns have two other first-round picks (Nos. 18, 25) to fill out the team and are also optimistic about the long-term future of Archie Goodwin. While I don’t like the baseline talent quite as much as I like Philly’s, the Suns could end up easily rivaling Philly as the best young team in the NBA in another year.
As expected, Kentucky players and targets dominate the draft. Andrew Harrison is 7th, Willie Cauley-Stein is 12th, Alex Poythress is 22nd, James Young at 24th, Aaron Harrison at 25th, and Dakari Johnson at 27th. It’s also interesting that Dante Exum is listed at number four and could be the darkhorse top player available.