It was one heck of a weekend for John Calipari. Fresh off of being inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night, he shot back to Kentucky to take part in his own fantasy camp. Affluent diehards within the Big Blue Nation can pay upwards of $7,500 to take part in a three-day weekend with their leader that includes private workouts, simulated game strategies, and the opportunity to take the hardwood to play a game at the legendary Rupp Arena. In association with the fantasy camp, the school had their annual UK alumni game, matching up against a squad of former North Carolina players.
Led by Harrison Barnes, UNC didn’t quite boast the star studded lineup of their Kentucky counterparts. Fellow NBA champ James Michael McAdoo joined the party along with former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse. The Wildcats boasted a lineup that included DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, the Harrison Twins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Trey Lyles amongst others.
(You can see the full box score here.)
Anthony Davis didn’t suit up, but was on the sidelines as the Wildcats’ honorary coach. While Kentucky ultimately won the game 122-115, all of the guys had a little fun. In fact, some even thought Coach Cal jokingly did his best to hold back DeMarcus Cousins, again.
“I don’t really want to get into it too much. He had his day, so I’m going to keep his shine,” explained Cousins. “But yeah, he held me back.”
Calipari presented the UNC players with a $50,000 donation to the UNC Children’s Hospital and then another $200,000 in Dean Smith’s legacy. The proceeds from the event raised over $1.5 million for various charities. Great basketball (both teams actually went hard), a hyped environment, and a lot of philanthropic efforts made for what was an outstanding night in Lexington.
Here are a few of the NBA players who stood out in the game:
DeMarcus Cousins, 6-11, C, Sacramento Kings
The Kings’ franchise player lived up to his billing, posting 33 points, 18 boards, and 6 assists. Boogie even hit 5 three-pointers, seeming more intent to show the Big Blue Nation what he could do on the perimeter as opposed to doing work on the blocks. With owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Vlade Divac in attendance to show love to their star, it’s safe to say that Cousins won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Harrison Barnes, 6-8, SF, Golden State Warriors
While the UNC squad didn’t have anywhere near the star power of their rival counterparts, Barnes did just about everything in his power to keep his gang of guys in the game. The NBA champ led the game in scoring with 39 points, effortlessly stroking threes and showing more of his game off of the bounce than we saw in a GSW jersey. After the game, Barnes stated his desire to bring a game of this nature to Carolina and after seeing the absurd of capital raised for an amazing cause, this should come to fruition sooner rather than later.
Devin Booker, 6-6, SG, Phoenix Suns
Many considered Devin Booker to be the best shooter in the 2015 NBA Draft and he showed why against the UNC alumni. He was an effortless catch-and-shoot guy, never even remotely contemplating where the three point line may be. The 18-year old’s size allowed him to shoot over anyone, he exhibited a quick release, and actually was a bit deceptive off of the bounce. Every NBA team could use more shooting and that should give Booker an opportunity to receive some burn as the League’s youngest player this year.
Andrew Harrison, 6-6, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Though he slipped into the second round of June’s NBA Draft, you would never know it with the swagger that Aaron Harrison played with against UNC. He showed off his slick handle, drilled a number of deep bombs from three, and made pinpoint passes in transition. There is definitely a ton of opportunity for Andrew in Memphis, especially given Coach Joerger’s love for big guards who can defend.