UK Alumni Game raises $1M-plus for charity

John Calipari had two major goals for Monday's second-annual UK Alumni Game: bring members of the Wildcat basketball family back to Lexington once again to play in front of the fans and give away a huge sum of money to charity in the process.

John Calipari had two major goals for Monday's second-annual UK Alumni Game: bring members of the Wildcat basketball family back to Lexington once again to play in front of the fans and give away a huge sum of money to charity in the process.

Mission accomplished.

Those goals were met as a group of former Cats that included nine first-round NBA draft picks drew a crowd of 19,255 to Rupp Arena for an all-star game which helped raise in excess of $1 million for 17 local and statewide charities. Last year's game, also considered a resounding success, raised $350,000.

The event also served as a unique recruiting opportunity for Calipari, who had some of UK's top targets in the 2014 and 2015 classes in town to see the spectacle and meet former UK players in the NBA like John Wall, Anthony Davis, Patrick Patterson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Brandon Knight.

Wall put on quite a show for all in attendance, scoring a game-high 40 points to lead the Blue squad to a 111-95 victory and showing some of the reasons why the Washington Wizards recently signed him to a new long-term contract.

"(Eric Bledsoe) told me I wouldn't go for 40, so I just tried to get 40," said Wall, who added 10 rebounds and 10 assists for good measure in posting a triple-double.

"It's exciting to have fun, put on a show for the crowd, but at the same time we want to get each other better, so we're taking it pretty serious and trying to guard each other," Wall said of the often-competitive one-on-one matchups with his UK point guard predecessor, Brandon Knight.

Knight finished the game with 30 points and seven assists for the White team.

Many of the former Cats have been in Lexington all weekend getting to know Calipari's new players and sizing them up on the court.

"I think we do it the right way," Wall said. "Just having those guys come back and maybe play pick-up with some of the guys sometimes, and playing with recruits and having them around. It's great, and they see what type of school this is and what they can put together."

With many high level recruits in attendance on Monday, Knight, who was traded from Detroit to Milwaukee in the offseason, left the prospects with a message:

"I mean, you've got think about it: If there's that many NBA players the past couple years, there has to be something going on here where the guys know they're going to get better and they know they're going to have a chance to win a national championship. So I would think about why are so many guys going here and making it to the next level and being successful as well. So I would want to be a part of it."

UK played host to three of the best players in the Class of 2014: No. 1 overall prospect Jahlil Okafor, a 6-10 center from Chicago; five-star Chicago point guard Tyler Ulis; and five-star Mississippi shooting guard Devin Booker.

The Cats also entertained two high-profile 2015 prospects in the form of five-star Philadelphia wing Derrick Jones and five-star Ohio swingman Luke Kennard. Kobi Simmons, a 2016 point guard from Georgia, was also in attendance.


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