UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky will see several familiar faces in the Bahamas

LSU's Tasmin Mitchell snags a rebound as USC's Sam Muldrow defends in the first period at the Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 13.
LSU's Tasmin Mitchell snags a rebound as USC's Sam Muldrow defends in the first period at the Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 13. The State

Familiar names dot the rosters of opponents Kentucky will play in the Bahamas this week.

Former LSU standout Tasmin Mitchell will play for Champagne Chalons-Reims, the professional team from France. Former Florida guard Mike Rosario is on the Puerto Rican reserves team.

Mitchell ranks third on LSU's career scoring list with 1,989 points. Only Pete Maravich (3,667) and Durand Macklin (2,080) scored more for the Tigers. Mitchell's last season for LSU was 2009-10.

Mitchell, 28, played last season in Israel, where he averaged 13.9 points and made 49 percent of his shots.

Rosario averaged 12.5 points for Florida as a senior in 2012-13. UK fans might recall that a fast-breaking Rosario was involved in the play that resulted in Nerlens Noel tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in 2012.

Two other players for Champagne Chalons-Reims might be familiar.

Former West Virginia player Da'Sean Butler signed with the French team. In West Virginia's memorable victory over Kentucky in the 2010 Elite Eight, he scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and played all 40 minutes.

Former Syracuse center Darryl Watkins also is on the French team's roster.

The Dominican Republic team is not scheduled to complete its training camp until Monday. Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks is injured and will not play, a team spokesman said. Among possible players are former Louisville standouts Francisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa.

'It's Kentucky'

Mason Miller, one of the travel coordinators for the Bahamas trip, expects a big contingent of UK fans.

It's Kentucky — they always travel well," she wrote in an email. Miller said she expects the tiny Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium to be "close to capacity for the games."

'My main goal'

In talking with reporters Wednesday, Alex Poythress made no secret of his desire to be UK's small forward this season. With the Harrison twins at the point and shooting guard and some combination of "bigs" at center and power forward, the small forward spot seems most up for grabs.

"That's my main goal," Poythress said. "That's what I really want to do. That's what I want to strive to do. What I'm really working hard to do, being in the gym every night. Just try to perfect my craft."

Bahamas vs. Maui

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas suggested that comparing the Bahamas event with the Maui Invitational is futile. Apples and oranges, he said.

Maui is an eight-team tournament. The games count on the regular-season record.

The Bahamas will be six games, two each against three opponents. Experimentation will be on display.

"I think they want to win these games," Bilas said of the Cats. "But they're not games you have to win."

College rules

The games will be played with college rules, not rules used in international play, UK said. That means 20-minute halves and a 35-second shot clock, not four quarters and a 24-second shot clock.

Bilas said he preferred the quicker play dictated by international rules. "Better way to play," he said.


Luka Antic, one of the players for Champagne Chalons-Reims, is the son of the coach, Nikola Antic.

The elder Antic played professionally in Europe until he was 41 years old.

In an email message, the coach noted how his team will take the games in the Bahamas seriously.

"Don't forget France is European champion," he wrote in an email. The team feels an obligation to play "strong basketball," he said.

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