Ex-Cats

‘Bluegrass Boys’ play their tournament opener Saturday in Chicago

Former Kentucky standout Derek Anderson signed a basketball at an event in Nicholasville benefiting the Derek Anderson Foundation in 2012.
Former Kentucky standout Derek Anderson signed a basketball at an event in Nicholasville benefiting the Derek Anderson Foundation in 2012. Lexington Herald-Leader

The road to a potential $2 million payday for a team of University of Kentucky basketball alumni starts Saturday.

The Bluegrass Boys, a squad put together by former Wildcat Mark Krebs, opens play in the single-elimination “The Basketball Tournament” on Saturday night in Chicago.

Seeded No. 1 in the Midwest Regional, the Bluegrass Boys will face the No. 16-seeded Jackson (Tenn.) Underdawgs at 6:45 p.m. EDT at the Shannon Center on the campus of St. Xavier University. The game will be streamed live via Whistle Sports’ Facebook page. The winner will advance to a second-round game Sunday.

According to the tournament’s website, the aptly named Underdawgs are “a group of friends who have played together since high school” and include “a banker, engineer, teacher and truck driver.” By contrast, the Bluegrass Boys will suit up five players with NBA experience and five more who have played in the D-League. Everyone on the Bluegrass Boys’ roster has played professionally, either in the U.S. or overseas.

The tournament, which boasts a $2 million prize to the winner of a championship game that will be broadcast by ESPN, started with 64 teams. The first and second rounds of the West and South regionals were held last weekend. Each of those regionals has been whittled to four teams. The Midwest and Northeast regionals begin Saturday.

The Bluegrass Boys’ roster consists of former Wildcats Shagari Alleyne, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford, Erik Daniels, Kevin Galloway, Perry Stevenson and Marquis Teague; former Tennessee players Scotty Hopson (a Hopkinsville native) and Brian Williams; former Xavier standout Jordan Crawford (Joe’s brother); and former Louisville player Chane Behanan. The team is coached by former UK standout Derek Anderson, and Krebs serves as general manager.

Tickets for each of the first and second rounds are $20 for adults and $10 for children 3-12. Tickets are good for all games played in each round.

The regional semifinals and finals — the “Super 16” — will be played July 21-23 in Philadelphia. Those games will be shown live on ESPNU and ESPN2.

The Final Four is July 30 in New York, with the championship on Aug. 2. The semifinals and finals will be televised live on ESPN. According to the event’s website, players, coaches and boosters of the winning team will share 90 percent of the $2 million prize ($1.8 million), with the top 100 fans of the winning team sharing the remainder.

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