By: LARRY VAUGHT
He’s not allowed to say exactly who will be participating in the UK Alumni Charity Game Sept. 15 at Rupp Arena because of NBA restrictions, but Kentucky coach John Calipari says plenty of former star players will be participating.
“We can’t mention in that game the players returning. The way it is set up, they (NBA) have to say who is coming, but a majority of our guys will come back. Some of them have some things they have to do, but a majority of them will be back,” Calipari said.
There will also be a game the same day between members of the 1996 national championship team at Kentucky and players from the John Calipari Fantasy Experience. Derek Anderson, Anthony Epps, Walter McCarty, Antoine Walker, Jared Prickett, Wayne Turner and Jeff Sheppard have indicated they will all play.
“Here’s the funny thing: The ’96 team, they said, ‘Can we have Nazr (Mohammed)?’ I said, ‘No! You wouldn’t let him play when he was here; he didn’t play with you.’ So no, he’s playing with the other guys,” Calipari said. “But if some of those guys are in really good shape, they may want to play in the other game, which we’d let them.
“The biggest thing is the introductions and all the other things. What happened last year when we did this, the sellout and people went crazy, was just a neat thing. I think that every year we’ll do something. We just want to get want to get this thing started and then we can figure out each year what are we doing. What I’d like them to do is bring back their families and make it a weekend where they come in and they’re here and back on campus and doing those kind of things.”
Tickets for the games are $20 upper level, $40 lower level and $100 premium seating and are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. All proceeds will go to four charities — Samaritan’s Feet, 4 Paws for Ability, West Liberty Recovery Fund and Everfi Financial Literacy.
“We’re going to give out checks that night. We’ll have a better idea how much those checks will be based on what the attendance is. But the families from West Liberty will get money. There’s a military group … we train dogs on this campus for military veterans that come back … we’re going to give away the dogs that night – and it’s a significant number, the cost per dog – to Wounded Warriors,” Calipari said.
“We’re going to do stuff for the financial literacy that’s been going on within our state. Samaritan’s Feet. And there’s some others. The money, though, that’s generated, will be given out that night. And it will be given out by the players, directly to somebody.
“The best thing will be in the game, if we have three, four five families from West Liberty that get grants directly from a player. John Wall gives this family a grant whose house was wiped out (by a tornado) and they had no insurance. Think about that. Or here’s a veteran that has lost his limbs, and this dog is going to be his new way to a new life, and it’s a $20,000 dog, and you give it to three or four vets from the state of Kentucky. Some of the stuff we do, I want to know what other state we could do it in.”
Doors will open at 11 a.m. with the 1996 team playing at noon and the UK alumni playing in the exhibition game at 2 p.m.