The University of Arizona’s McKale Center will host 10 high school basketball teams for the MLK Basketball Classic today.
The five-game Classic begins at 2 p.m. and will feature three boys games and two girls contests.
While some players and coaches have set foot on Lute and Bobbi Olson Court in years past, everyone will share the special experience of playing on the top-ranked Wildcats’ home court.
The Star sat down with several players and coaches from across Southern Arizona to get their thoughts on getting to play at such a prestigious venue.
Who are some of your favorite former Arizona Wildcats?
- Andre Bearden, Sahuaro boys
- : “Derrick Williams because he kind of brought back what UA basketball is all about.”
- Bailey Johnson, Tucson girls
- : “Davellyn Whyte, I’ve known her for a long time.”
Who is your favorite player on this year’s squad?
- Arthur Gibson, Sahuaro boys
- : “Nick Johnson because the way he hustles. He’s an amazing athlete.”
- Shalise Fernander, Flowing Wells girls
- : “I like the point guard (T.J. McConnell), he’s kind of cute.”
What is your favorite all-time moment at McKale?
- Damon Dunlap, Willcox boys
- : “I was there when the UA retired Mike Bibby’s jersey, that was a cool experience.”
- Idalis Galindo, Pueblo girls
- : “Playing at the Niya Butts camp.”
- Cameron Denson, Salpointe Catholic boys
- : “Last year, UA was down by four to Florida with a minute left and came back and won the game. That just made me so excited to be apart of it and to be from Tucson. The football team also won that day, so, it was a Bear Down type of day.”
What kind of emotions will you be have before taking the court?
- Anthony Marshall, Mountain View boys
- : “We’ll probably all have butterflies, I know I will. I’ll be nervous, but, once the game starts, it’s just another game.”
- Sierra Mejia, Pueblo girls
- : “Honestly, it’s a huge rush when I think about it. Being in high school and being able to have college experiences, it’s amazing.”
What would a win at McKale mean to you and your teammates?
- : “It would mean the world to me and my team. We all are so excited for this. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity being from a small school. A win would be the cherry on top of the sundae.”
- : “It would mean a lot. This is a great opportunity to play somewhere former players like Davellyn Whyte played. A lot of people can’t say they’ve done that.”
What’s it going to be like to play on the home court of the No. 1 team in the nation?
- Terrence Johnson, Cienega boys
- : “It’s going to be an amazing feeling. It’ll be a great atmosphere and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
- : “I’m excited, it’s going to be good. I hope the good luck rubs off on us.”