UK players starstruck by Jay-Z (update: Jay-Z may pay for it)



After beating North Carolina to earn a Final Four bid, the UK players were surprised by rapper Jay-Z as they headed back to the locker room.

“I didn’t know (he was there),” Terrence Jones said. “I was shocked when I saw him. He was out in the hallway, Josh saw him and gave him a hand shake. I was like, let me get one, too.”

Asked what his first reaction was, Jones raised his voice: “I said, ‘OHHHH! THAT’S JAY-Z!’”

Jay-Z is a partial owner of the New Jersey Nets, who play at the same arena UK played at in the East Regional. The music mogul congratulated the team and shook their hands.

“I kind of had to do a double-take,” Darius Miller said of Jay-Z’s impromptu appearance. “I didn’t expect it at all. I had to get a picture with him.”

The presence of one of the music industry’s top stars showing up to congratulate the team, added to the excitement level from winning.

“Jay-Z, one of the best rappers — the best rapper — him being here just adds the cherry on top of the ice cream,” Jones said.

Considering Drake was last year’s tournament visitor, hanging in the locker room for UK’s second-round game, next year it might be — in the words of Jay-Z himself — “on to the next one.”

“We’ll probably have a different rap star next year,” said Doron Lamb.

UPDATE: Jay-Z may have gotten himself into some trouble with the NBA because of the locker room visit. Because he is a partial owner of the Nets, and UK has multiple potential NBA prospects, the visit may have violated rules prohibiting team personnel from contacting players not yet draft eligible. is reporting that the NBA is investigating Jay-Z’s actions. UK does not appear to have any involvement in the investigation. The NCAA has not responded to comment as of this time.

A similar situation occurred in the past, when Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge had a conversation with Kevin Durant’s mother before Durant was draft eligible. Ainge was fined $30,000.