Five members of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team spent a little time playing a different kind of ball Monday afternoon.
They played "mat ball" — a modified version of kickball — with students at Picadome Elementary School.
"It was really fun," said fourth-grader Violet Updike, 9. "My dad's going to be super jealous."
Violet said she "felt like a munchkin" alongside the players: freshmen Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson and twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, and redshirt senior Jon Hood.
Johnson, a center from Brooklyn, N.Y., grinned after the game was over, saying, "We could've won it."
He said he enjoyed "just putting smiles on their faces."
Hood told the 50 or so students gathered in the gym after school that academics were a lot like basketball: "The more we practice at reading, math, social studies, we're going to get better at that, too."
Picadome principal Jennifer Hutchison said the UK Athletics Department delivers food to the school each week to be distributed through the God's Pantry BackPack Program.
She said various sports teams make the deliveries throughout the year; Monday was the basketball team's turn.
The students who met with the players were from Picadome's after-school program and its Girls Empowered and Motivated to Succeed program.
Hutchison said she appreciated UK's partnership and the message it sends to the children.
"Athletes are not just athletes but are students at the collegiate level," she said.
A series of stories about UK's basketball players starts Wednesday in Sports.
Cal says this group of Wildcats will bring back the good times. Page C1