The Derby Festival Basketball Classic gives fans of Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana a preview of incoming freshmen.
For Lexington native Erasto Hatchett, the Derby Festival game Saturday night in Freedom Hall will also be "kind of a family thing."
That's because he expects at least 20 family members to attend. His mother grew up in Louisville, where she attended Central High with Muhammad Ali. His father's family was from Lexington. Those family branches will come together in Freedom Hall
Among the family members sure to attend is a brother-in-law, guard Ryan Harrow, who will be playing for the "Black" team that includes Hatchett as one of its coaches.
"This is a unique and special opportunity," Hatchett said Thursday. "I'm kind of savoring the moment. This may be my last opportunity to coach him and be at a function together. It's special."
Harrow, a point guard committed to North Carolina State, played for Hatchett as an eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grader. The two combined to win a North Carolina state championship when Harrow was an eighth-grader. The Charlotte-based Cannon School team that won the championship included another standout eighth-grader in Jarell Eddie, who will be a freshman at Virginia Tech next season.
A Henry Clay High School graduate, Hatchett met Harrow's sister when they attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. When they married, Ryan was in elementary school.
"He's my best friend," Hatchett said. "He's my brother-in-law, but he's my brother."
Hatchett downplayed the role he played in developing Harrow as a player. "The only thing I taught him, probably, was a jump shot," he said. "As a point guard, I knew that was an asset. All the other things, he's blessed."
Harrow, who will play on the same "Black" team that includes Louisville-bound players like Kentucky Mr. Basketball Elisha Justice, Russ Smith and Justin Coleman, finished his high school career at Walton High in Marietta, Ga.
Hatchett moved to Raleigh, N.C., where he coached highly regarded prospect C.J. Leslie at Word of God Academy this past season.
By mutual consent, Hatchett left Word of God Academy last month. Now he's looking for new basketball opportunities."I did college coaching for three years at Johnson C. Smith," he said. "I possibly could get back in college coaching. Or back this way if an opportunity presented itself. We'll see what direction the Lord takes me."
UK recruits in action
Several players on Kentucky's recruiting radar will be taking part in post-season all-star games Saturday.
In addition to signee Stacey Poole Jr. at the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville, UK fans can get a look at big-man commitment Enes Kanter at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore. (10 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
The 6-foot-10 Kanter has created a stir during practices this week, according to Matt Kamalsky's blog on DraftExpress.com: "Working the block and high post, he flashed the same outstanding toughness and patience in the post that made him a dominant junior player, but stepped out and knocked a handful of catch-and-shoot jumpers down from just inside the college three-point line. Crashing the glass relentlessly as he so often does, Kanter was very active on defense too, challenging shots, boxing out, and competing at a high level."
Kamalsky advised keeping an eye on the matchup between Kanter and Ohio State recruit Jared Sullinger, who was MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game.
Joining Kanter in Portland are UK targets Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones.
Elsewhere, Jarrod Polson of West Jessamine, who the Cats took a look at during some pickup games at UK this week, will play in the 19th annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills. The boys' game begins at 7:30 p.m., following the 5:30 p.m. girls' game.
Among those joining Polson on the Kentucky squad are Tanner Peurach of Lexington Catholic, Vance Hall of Franklin County, Curtis Washington of Elizabethtown and Jeremiah and Ricardo Johnson of Holmes.
UK signee Sarah Beth Barnette of Lexington Christian leads the Kentucky girls.
Polson's chances 'promising'
West Jessamine star Jarrod Polson played pickup games with Kentucky players on Thursday. Afterward, he received an invitation to return for more pickup games in the future.
"So it looks promising," his father, George Polson, said of the possibility of his son joining the UK team next season as a walk-on or scholarship player.
Earlier this week, UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua called West Jessamine Coach Damon Kelley to ask if Polson might be interested in a chance to join the team. If interested, he could play pick-up games and then a decision could be made about joining the team.
Those games at the Craft Center on Thursday included UK players DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrellson, Jon Hood and Darius Miller, plus former UK players DeMarcus Cousins, Wayne Turner and Ravi Moss.
George Polson said the games were unstructured, freelance affairs that did not ideally suit his son's style. Still, the elder Polson came away encouraged that his son's hopes of playing for Kentucky had not been ruled out.