After more than 40 years in Division I men’s basketball, the Evansville Aces, a team only 200 miles from Lexington, might get its first shot at taking on Kentucky thanks to new head coach and former University of Kentucky great Walter McCarty.
McCarty, hired by the Aces this year, announced Wednesday night during a fan event in Henderson that the two schools were talking about playing in early November of the 2019-2020 season, according to a report by Pat Hickey, of Evansville’s Courier & Press.
“When’d we talk to (UK head coach John Calipari)? McCarty asked Evansville senior associate athletic director Lance Wilkerson, according to the report. “I believe it was two, three days ago? Not this season but the next, we’ll play Kentucky. I believe there were three dates: November 11, 12th or 13th — something like that — next season. That’s what the plan is.”
McCarty is an Evansville native who played for UK from 1993 to 1996, a run that included the Wildcats’ sixth national title.
Evansville has its own championship pedigree, winning the Division II national title five times (1959, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1971). The Aces moved to Division I in 1977 and have made five NCAA Tournament appearances, the last coming in 1998.
McCarty had an 11-year NBA career after being signed as the 19th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. He began his coaching career as an assistant under Rick Pitino in Louisville in 2007 and continued in assistant roles for the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics until being hired to lead his hometown university in March.