Although National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball teams travel all around the world to play in various tournaments and showcases, it appears that the University of Kentucky Wildcats and their coach John Calipari have found somewhat of a second home in The Bahamas.
In 2014, the Wildcats hosted their Big Blue Bahamas Tour, and due to its success, the university inked a deal to return to The Bahamas last year. Now, back again, the Wildcats will take on Arizona State on the second leg of a home-and-away series today at Atlantis resort.
On their Big Blue Tour, the Wildcats took on national teams from France, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. And although NCAA teams are allowed just one foreign tour every four years, Calipari hopes that the Wildcats could schedule a game annually in The Bahamas.
“The guys get here (Atlantis), they eat until they can’t anymore and the setup is great,” he said. “Everything here is self contained and the flight here is just two hours away from our campus. Two hours, and we are in another world.
“Even if we don’t come back this summer, the next summer I want to do the same thing. Get three FIBA teams to come down here and play us. This time I think we will get even better FIBA teams because the word is out on what it is.
“The other thing is I would love to play down here every year. Lets get an opponent, come down and play and make it something that we do every year, not every four years.”
The last time the Wildcats came down to The Bahamas, they ended up having one of the best seasons in collegiate basketball history. They finished 38-1 overall and spent the entire season ranked as the No.1 team in the country. They breezed through the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament before being upset by the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four.