On tour: UK seniors will play in Harrodsburg

March 24, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky's five basketball seniors will play their first barnstorming game April 12 in Harrodsburg.

It will be the first game on at least a 14-game barnstorming tour for the Wildcats, who lost to Alabama-Birmingham Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

"They called and wanted to play and we thought it would be a nice thing for area basketball fans," said Spencer Tatum, Harrodsburg High School's athletics director and boys basketball coach. "It will be a fund-raiser for our basketball program."

Tatum said the players originally talked about playing at Harrodsburg April 8, but a potential conflict with an NBA tryout camp pushed the date back to April 12.


"That should work out well, though, because that is our first day back in school after spring break," Tatum said.

Gerald Fitch, Erik Daniels, Cliff Hawkins, Antwain Barbour and Matt Heissenbuttel helped the Wildcats compile a 59-9 mark the last two years. The senior class also won 105 games during the last four seasons.

"This barnstorming is always something the fans and friends of Kentucky basketball support," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. "It is amazing the love affair people have with Kentucky basketball players. I hope when fans get a chance to meet them and show their appreciation that they will have a chance to show the appreciation for all they have meant to our program."

The seniors will make their first appearance April 2 with an autograph session at Man O' War Ford in Lexington. They also will sign autographs April 3 at Mall St. Matthews in Louisville, April 4 at Fans 1st Choice in Middletown, Ohio, and April 24 at Rupp Arena before the Lexington Horsemen's game.

The group will also play games at the following high schools: April 13, Ryle; April 15, Elizabethtown; April 16, Hopkinsville; April 17, Owensboro Catholic; April 18, Nelson County; April 20, Franklin County; April 23, Greenwood; April 25, Pulaski County; April 30, Marshall County; May 2, Clark County; May 4, Green County; May 6, Louisville Male; and May 7, Tell City (Ind.).

"They will put on a show for you," Smith said. "You will see some good basketball, too. Erik will put on a show. They are all great guys, and they are all very competitive. It will be some spirited basketball."

Tatum said he's trying to put together a team of 46th District seniors to play against the UK seniors, who may also have a few other former UK players at the game.

"Coaches are notifying players now," Tatum said. "It may conflict with baseball, track or tennis for some players. If we can't get enough seniors out of our district, then I'll see if some other players from the area and (12th) Region want to play."

The Kentucky seniors will hold an autograph session after each game where fans can purchase merchandise for autograph purposes.

"These guys all have great stories to tell," Smith said. "They can tell what they had to overcome at Kentucky and what it has meant to them to be part of the Kentucky basketball program. Fans will get an up close and personal look at what playing at Kentucky has meant to them."

Tatum already understands that. He was a manager for the UK basketball team and played with John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, Sean Woods and Richie Farmer when they toured the state in 1992 after UK's memorable NCAA loss to Duke.

"We played all over the state and every gym was packed," Tatum said. "It was an unbelievable experience. Hopefully fans here will enjoy seeing these guys play, too."

Mabry signs: Kentucky has added another player to its recruiting class. Linebacker Mikhail Mabry from Mililani, Hawaii, was a first-team all-state pick last season when he made 88 tackles, including eight quarterback sacks, and helped his team reach the playoffs.

The 225-pound Mabry is the 28th signee for UK. He's expected to wait until January to enroll at Kentucky and will count toward the 2005 recruiting total.

"Mikhail brings impressive speed and athletic ability to our linebacker positions," UK coach Rich Brooks said. "He's also an outstanding student. We're very excited to get him."

Because he's from a military family, he has lived in Texas, Germany, California, Georgia and Mississippi also.

Holts dismissed: Brooks has dismissed sophomore linebacker Deion Holts from the Kentucky football team for violation of team rules,.

Holts played in 11 games last season - he was suspended for one game - and started seven times at outside linebacker. He had 52 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, and tied for the team lead in quarterback sacks with 4.5.

As a walk-on freshman in 2002, he made 30 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss, and was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team as chosen by SEC coaches.

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