DeMarcus Cousins feigns annoyance at a call during alumni game. (Photo by Jon Hale)
On a day in which UK basketball fans had a chance to see some of their favorite former Wildcats play at Rupp Arena again, the most memorable moment likely came at halftime.
That was when UK head coach John Calipari, the former Wildcats playing and coaching in the alumni game and recording artist Drake presented $325,000 to six charities.
The largest check, for $110,000, went to recovery efforts for West Liberty, Ky., which was devastated by tornados last Spring. A check for $60,000 was presented to the service dog charity 4 Paws For Ability.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which supplies hearing aids to those in need around the world, was presented a check for $55,000. The Calipari Family Foundation pledged $50,000 toward the expansion of its financial literacy program with Kentucky banks and EverFi for Kentucky’s K-12 students.
Checks for $25,000 went to Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that provides shoes to the needy worldwide, and the Lexington Urban League.
On Friday participants in the Calipari fantasy camp presented a check for $25,000 to the Jimmy V Foundation, which focuses on cancer research. A fantasy experience auction for the campers raised an additional $128,000, bringing the total money raised in the the week to $478,000.
Former Cats Anthony Davis and Wah Wah Jones show off their gold medals from respective London Olympics. (Photo by Jon Hale)
Former Wildcats Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Jared Prickett, Perry Stevenson, Antoine Walker, Wayne Turner, Randolph Morris, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Derek Anderson and Nazr Mohammed played in the alumni game.
Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Josh Harrellson were also introduced with teams before the event but did not play. John Wall coached the Blue team.
“It was a lot of fun to see these guys again, spend time with them, especially on the court,” Miller said. “We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it.”
The White team, consisting of Cousins, Davis, Delk, McCarty, Prickett, Stevenson and Walker rode an early rout to a 121-93 win.
In a game with almost no defense being played, Cousins led the way with 42 points, including 15 on threes in the first half, and 15 rebounds. His teammate Davis added 40 points. Delk tallied 12 assists for the White team.
The Blue team was led by Kidd-Gilchrist with 32 points. Anderson and Turner scored 20 points each. Miller added 17 points.
Cousins finished the game at five of 10 from three-point range, but he joked afterward he had proved his shooting ability to Calipari.
“He finally admitted that he was holding me back,” Cousins said with a laugh. “I’m glad to hear that.”
Turner, Anderson, Sheppard, Delk, McCarty and Prickett held their own in the alumni game despite playing in an early game that matched up members of the 1996 national championship team against the an all-star team from the fantasy camp.
Delk led the way in that game with 23 points. McCarty scored 19, Anderson scored 12, Turner scored 11 and Prickett scored 10 in a 103-43 win for the former national champions.
Sheppard, Antoine Walker, Anthony Epps and Oliver Simmons also played in the earlier game.
At the end of the day, the money raised for charity and the welcoming back of so many former Wildcats proved the special atmosphere around the program, Cousins said.
“It’s always fun to come back here,” he said. “Fans never change, still the same love.”