VAUGHT: UK Room appealed to Zollo

The first time Robyn Curry met Jim Porter, she was not prepared for what she saw.

"I met him through my mother and then she asked me if I would like to go to his house. I was not prepared for that at all. His whole house was about Kentucky. It was blue and white. His car was blue. Everything in the house, including his clothes, were blue. Or at least that is what it seemed like," Curry said. "I asked my mom if that was really his house or if that was just where he came to play around. Even the salt and pepper shakers were UK."

Porter proudly proclaims himself as Ohio's No. 1 UK fan. He even has a business card printed with that message.

Porter came to watch Curry's son, Vinny Zollo, play when he was a youngster. When Porter and his wife moved to a new house, he again invited Curry and her family to come over. This time she brought her young son.

"It was a beautiful house again and when we got inside, he took us on a tour of his special room that had all his UK stuff. With every item, he had a story," Curry said. "Vinny was touching everything. I was afraid he was going to break something. When we left, Vinny said, ‘I am going to have a room like that in my house one day because I am going to UK.'"

Amazingly, that prediction by a young Vinny Zollo is now set to become a reality after he verbally committed to UK coach Billy Gillispie last week even though he has three years of high school left.

"Jim was one of the first people Vinny called when he committed and they shared a few tears together," Curry said.

"He is a special friend of our family. He's really a nice guy. He came to see me play several times in junior high. He's a die-hard UK fan and I knew he would be excited about my decision. That's why I wanted to call him," Zollo said.

Porter was thrilled with the news. He remembers Zollo's visit to his house, but he didn't know Zollo told his mother that night that he wanted his own UK room one day.

"It was fun to see him look at all my UK stuff. His grandma was with him, too, but he looked at everything in the room," Porter, who remembers watching Zollo play for the first time when he was a 6-4 sixth-grader, said.

Porter knew Zollo's grandmother, Jane, because they went to school together at Morehead State University.

"We touched bases during the years. We lost our daughter, Julie, to cancer, and she lost a son in a car wreck. We had seen him play basketball, too," Porter said. "We kept our friendship through the years. Jane is a huge UK fan, too. We've gone to games together."

Porter almost sounds like a proud grandfather talking about Zollo and he's already counting the days before Zollo can play for the Cats.

"What he has done and accomplished at this early age is something a guy like me used to dream about. It is incredible. And to think I know a family who has a son going to UK. It is incredible," Porter said. "He was in my house. It was such a happy moment when he called. Vinny called me directly that evening after committed. It made tears come to my eyes. I was just so happy.

"He is a precocious young man. His demeanor and communication skills are amazing. They are getting more than a good basketball player at Kentucky. They are getting a great kid, too, and I couldn't be prouder to say that I know him and his family."

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