Looking at other potential “homecomings”


Terrence Jones laughs with Doron Lamb after the second half of UK’s win over ETSU at Rupp Arena on Friday Nov. 12 , 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

Home is where the heart is. And the Rose Garden, of course.

The Cats are set to embark on a road trip to Portland, Ore., the hometown of freshman forward Terrence Jones, to take on the Portland Pilots in the home arena of the Portland Trail Blazers (the Rose Garden).

The game is being touted as a homecoming for Jones, the most recent Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, but really, the trip out west acts as a nice tune-up before the Cats play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, a tournament that could see UK play three games in three days against stiff competition the week of Thanksgiving.

Plus, the stopover in Portland shaves off the first 2,000-or-so miles on a roughly 4,400-mile trip from Lexington to Maui, land of the flowered shirts and luaus.

Regardless, Jones, who initially committed to nearby Washington before signing with UK, has the rare opportunity to play close to home after all.

“It’s going to be real fun, you know how (Nicholasville, Ky., native and teammate) Jarrod (Polson) gets that little ‘Aahh!’ every time he touches the ball, hopefully I’ll get that,” Jones said.

So if every game in Rupp Arena is a homecoming for Polson, and if Jones will be the beneficiary of home cooking on Friday, will the other players ever enjoy that feeling? Here are some potential Division I opponents that are close to their hometowns, and it would be a treat for them if they found their way onto future UK schedules.

Senior Josh Harrellson (St. Charles, Mo.): Seeing as this is Harrellson’s last year of eligibility, he will never have the opportunity to see this potential future game come to fruition, but facing off against the Saint Louis Billikens (ranked No.1 in the country at one time in the 1948-49 season) would be his homecoming.

Junior DeAndre Liggins (Chicago, Ill.): Liggins and Co. could take on the DePaul Blue Demons, a once-respectable program that has hit hard times in the Big East in recent years. Allstate Arena, home to the Blue Demons, seats 17,000-plus.

Junior Darius Miller (Maysville, Ky.): All Miller’s fans from the northern part of Kentucky could make the trip across the Ohio River to see the Cats play I-71 rival and Big East school Cincinnati.

Sophomore Jon Hood (Madisonville, Ky.): A choice between either the Murray State Racers or Western Kentucky Hilltoppers would give two programs with a combined 35 NCAA tournament appearances a chance to test their mettle against their in-state big brother.

Freshman Stacey Poole (Jacksonville, Fla.): The Cats played Atlantic Sun Conference member East Tennessee State this year, so maybe fellow A-Sun member Jacksonville could play host to UK next year (kidding).

Freshman Brandon Knight (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): A John Calipari and Isiah Thomas coaching duel would pit two of college hoops’ more interesting personalities together if UK ever scheduled a game against Florida International.

Freshman Doron Lamb (Queens, N.Y.): Lamb, like most any other player, would surely relish the chance to play in Madison Square Garden, home of the St. John’s Red Storm (among others).

Junior Eloy Vargas (Moca, Dominican Republic): No Division I schools are in the Dominican Republic, but Miami (the city where Vargas attended junior college last year) would serve as a substitute home. The Cats could take their talents to South Beach and play the Miami Hurricanes.

Of course, these games may never occur, but one thing can be guaranteed. If and when players appear close to home, they are bound to get flooded with ticket requests.

Jones has already figured out the solution to handling the demand.

“I just text them one thing: ‘ask my mom, not me,’” he said.

Nick is a journalism senior. E-mail him at [email protected]com