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Jamie Vaught: Watching former Wildcats an added bonus for UK grad Tomlin in job with Mavericks

For University of Kentucky graduate Scott Tomlin, it’s a very exciting time to follow NBA as the league is loaded with former Wildcats.

Like many Kentucky fans, Tomlin keeps track of ex-UK standouts. And, believe or not, he has the best seat in the house in NBA arenas because of his media relations job with the Dallas Mavericks.

Tomlin is the communications manager for the Mavericks in the office which often puts together news releases and coordinates press conferences for the players and coaches, among other duties. He has worked for the Mavericks since 2004.

Before coming to Dallas, Tomlin attended UK and graduated with a degree in communications along with a minor in psychology.

For Tomlin, who grew up in Maysville, Ky., watching former Wildcats in the NBA has made his job even more fun.

“It has been enjoyable to watch so many Wildcats get drafted and have success in the league,” wrote Tomlin in a recent e-mail. “Night in and night out, I feel like I get to watch the Mavericks compete against a former UK player on another roster whose recruitment and college career I followed so closely.”

Scott Tomlin (right) looks on as Nerlens Noel is introduced to the Dallas Mavericks’ media (Scott Tomlin Photo)

Now, he has former Cat, Nerlens Noel, on Dallas’ roster. The Mavericks, who have struggled to get a reliable big man at center over the years, are excited about the 6-11 Noel, who has been averaging around nine points and five rebounds in approximately 20 minutes of action.

“When I started with the Mavericks in 2004, we had two Wildcats on the roster: Tony Delk and Antoine Walker,” recalled Tomlin. “Since that 2003-04 team, I have worked with Jamaal Magloire (2007-08), Kelenna Azubuike (2011-12) and Rajon Rondo (2014-15). I did get to work for several years, including our championship season (in 2011), with Dwane Casey while he was an assistant coach in Dallas. He is an unbelievable guy. Those were great years.

“(Recently) we acquired Nerlens Noel and he is actually my first Wildcat from the Calipari era. Trading for Noel has really reenergized the fan base here in Dallas and he has made a very good first impression on the coaches and support staff. Plus, now I have a fellow Wildcat to discuss college basketball with just in time for March Madness.”

Asked about his favorite Wildcat basketball moment during his college years at Kentucky, Tomlin commented, “One of my favorite from a game (in 2001) was when I was a senior and Tayshaun Prince hit five consecutive three-pointers (on five straight possessions to start the game) against North Carolina and the Cats went on to win that game at Rupp.”

The 6-9 Prince finished with 31 points, including 7-for-11 from behind the arc, and grabbed 11 rebounds in UK’s 79-59 win over the Tar Heels.

While studying at UK, Tomlin added he has fond memories of working in school’s athletics department as a media relations assistant for four years, saying he is very grateful for that valuable experience.

Has Tomlin seen a Kentucky game at Rupp Arena lately?

“The last game I got to see in person was in February of 2012 at Rupp Arena,” remembered Tomlin. “I went with my dad and my brother. My dad has since passed away and that trip to Rupp is still one of my favorite memories with him. That day, the Cats beat Vanderbilt and about six weeks later that UK team beat Kansas to win the national championship. Wonderful, wonderful memories of that day.”

Interestingly, he has a friendly competition with his boss, Sarah Melton, a big fan of the Indiana Hoosiers who serves as Dallas’ director of communications.

“My boss is from Indiana and is an IU alum,” said Tomlin, who is also a die-hard fan of Cincinnati’s two sports franchises — the Reds and the Bengals. “We have a friendly rivalry, but mostly talk about how much the two traditions (UK and IU) are alike and the passion for college basketball that exists in those two states.”

With the Mavericks winning the NBA championship in 2011, Tomlin was asked if he wears the championship ring.

“I do have an NBA championship ring and while it is very special to me, I do not wear it,” he said. “It’s pretty large and I’m not much of a jewelry guy so I feel a little awkward when I have it on.”

Tomlin and his wife, Abby, will be celebrating nine years of marriage in July. “No kids yet, but we are parents to our puppy who demands a lot of our attention these days,” he quipped.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com Magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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