In a halftime ceremony at UK’s game vs. Mississippi State on Wednesday, members of the team will be given school rings to commemorate the 1996 national championship. Of the 15 players on the team’s roster, 11 – Anderson, Sheppard, Delk, Walker, McCarty, Ron Mercer, Anthony Epps, Wayne Turner, Jared Prickett, Oliver Simmons and Jason Lathrem – plan to be in attendance. Pope, Mohammed, Allen Edwards and Cameron Mills will receive their rings individually.
Judging by Marquis Estill’s emphatic celebration from the bench after Kyle Wiltjer’s impressive dunk at Ole Miss this season, you would think his name was still on the roster. Although he finished his collegiate career in 2003, the former UK forward still remains as passionate as ever about Kentucky basketball; only now, he is seeing the game from a different perspective as a first-year undergraduate student assistant coach.
The NCAA is asking fans to vote for the top players, teams and moments in NCAA Tournament history, and last year’s national championship Kentucky team is among the entries.
For a man that’s instituted an open-door policy and welcomed everyone back since taking the head coaching job, this weekend was a formal invitation from Calipari for the players to come home, fortify old bonds and share stories from their heydays.
CoachCal.com caught up with several former players following the UK Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena.
Sixteen years later, the 1996 national champions are still blowing out opponents. OK, so the competition wasn’t quite what it was in 1996 and the setting was a bit more relaxed, but players from the 1996 national championship showed they’ve still got a little talent in those aging bones and muscles.
Thursday was the opening day of the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience and Kentucky’s practice facility was overrun with some of the best players in the history of the program. In the men’s practice gym, there was Wayne Turner with Nerlens Noel practicing over his shoulder. Over on the women’s court, Derek Anderson was coaching up some of the campers that had paid to be a part of it all. On the Memorial Coliseum floor, Walter McCarty was getting reacquainted with the local media.
eRUPPtion Zone tickets will be available to the public for the Belmont and Mississippi State games, which occur over the university’s holiday break. Tickets will go on sale 90 minutes prior to tip-off at the Rupp Arena Box Office and are available on a first come/first serve basis.