After a morning interview at WHAS television, a woman stopped Brad Calipari. She wanted him to know that she was a rabid Kentucky fan.
To prove it, she showed him a picture from her wedding. She reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her wedding cake, which was a bust of UK Coach John Calipari.
“It was like from the shoulders up,” Brad Calipari said. “His whole head. It looked exactly like him.”
When asked what he thought of seeing a likeness of his father in cake form, Brad Calipari smiled and played it safe.
“It was interesting,” he said. “People are passionate.”
Brad Calipari will be a freshman walk-on on his father’s Kentucky team next season. In a sweet performance in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic later Friday, he showed the kind of perimeter shooting that might come in handy in some future UK game.
All but one of his shots were three-point attempts. He made three of six from beyond the arc and scored nine points. All three of his makes were from the corners, two from the right corner and one from the left.
A reporter suggested that the corner might be his sweet spot. Calipari demurred.
“Anywhere,” he said. “I’ll shoot from anywhere.”
Calipari, who won a fan favorite award, was literally in the spotlight during player introductions. Freedom Hall was darkened as a light shone on each player who entered the court upon hearing his game.
As a tease, the public address announcer told a crowd announced as 4,017 that Calipari would play collegiately at a school “real close to home.” Within walking distance, actually.
In 1987, another son of the UK coach enjoyed his performance in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Sean Sutton, whose father Eddie was Kentucky’s coach at the time, scored 19 points and was named a Most Valuable Player.
“My coming out party,” he said with a chuckle earlier this week.
When asked if he came into the game wanting to prove to exacting UK fans that he was not on the team simply because he was the son of the coach, Sutton said, “Not really. ... I just happened to play well that night. But it was rewarding.”
Calipari voiced a similar sentiment.
“It’s just an honor to be able to play here,” he said. “This is Louisville’s old gym. It’s just a great experience all around.”
For those who care, Calipari’s team won 144-132. Auburn-bound Mustapha Heron led all scorers with 32 points.
At halftime, Notre Dame-bound Temple Gibbs won the three-point shooting contest. He made 13 of 24 shots in one minute.
Quentin Goodin of Taylor County won the dunk contest. He is going to Xavier.