Bubba Parham delivers career performance at Rupp Arena


Kentucky freshman guard Immanuel Quickley plays defense during the game against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 92-82. Photo by Bailey Vandiver | Staff

Rupp Arena is the second biggest college basketball arena in the nation, and the brightest lights often shine down on the court during basketball games. It’s because of this setting that players from all over the country dream of delivering a highlight performance when they get the chance to take the court under the bright lights. 

On Sunday night, Virginia Military Institute’s Bubba Parham’s dream came true, as he had his best basketball game of his life against the Wildcats in Rupp Arena. He finished with a career-high 35 points thanks to 10 made three-pointers, which was also a career high.

“We all dream of playing in big arenas like this,” Parham said after the game. “I’m just blessed to be able to have the opportunity and my coach have the faith in me to shoot the ball.”

Parham’s 10 made three-pointers was just one three-pointer away from tying the Rupp Arena record for most made threes by a player ever. Parham and the rest of the Keydets broke the Rupp Arena record for most made three-pointers by an opponent with 19. 

“It wasn’t just one kid making shots, they made 19, so there were nine others that we left corners, we did that three times,” UK head coach John Calipari said.

Parham’s performance, though, stands above the rest of his teammates because of the way his threes were going in. At 5’11”, Parham’s shot has a high arc, which only made fans hold their breath longer after Parham kept making threes to the crowd’s surprise. 

“I’ve been shooting like that for a while, some people call it a rainbow shot but I practice that each and every day,” Parham said. “It’s kind of my form now.”

Parham started on a hot streak, knocking down three three-pointers in the first 7:33 of the game. Parham had another great span near the end of the game, knocking down three more threes from the 7:49 mark of the second half to the 2:30 mark

One of Parham’s most memorable threes was one over Quade Green, another high-arcing shot that felt like an eternity before it swished through the net. As the ball was flying through the air, Parham was knocked down by Green trying to draw a foul. 

Parham did not end up getting the call, but his shot did go through the net, not to the surprise of Parham but to the surprise of Green. 

“When I released it, he said there’s no way that one’s going in, and then once it went in he kind of laughed it off,” Parham said of the three over Green.

“I was really mad, really, but I had no choice but to laugh at it,” Green. “He was on fire today.”

As each three went in, one section of Rupp grew louder and louder, the section where Parham’s family was sitting. 

Parham’s parents made the drive to Lexington, Kentucky, to see their son play under the bright lights. Parham didn’t get the chance to see his family before the game, but it didn’t take him long for him to find out they made it.

“It was one at the free throw line, I just heard yelling and I was like  ‘oh, there she is,’” Parham said. “I definitely heard her.”

Parham’s three-point shooting was impressive, but his head coach was also impressed with what Parham was doing when he wasn’t shooting.

“He certainly took some shots– a couple where it’s like ‘woah woah woah, okay,’ and it went in, one of those deals, but he also sprayed the ball,” VMI head coach Dan Earl said of Parham’s performance. “Two guys got on him and he was able to pitch it and we were able to get a couple open shots for other guys because he drew so much attention.”

Parham led the team with four assists, which is tied for the third most he’s had in his career. Overall Parham spent 38 of the 40 minutes on the court for VMI, something he won’t forget for a lifetime. 

“Believe me, his grandchildren will be watching that video in Rupp Arena,” Calipari said.