by RENALDO DORSETT
Following the success of the Big Blue Bahamas Tour, the University of Kentucky Wildcats recently inked a deal to return to the Bahamas in 2016.
Kentucky and Arizona State agreed to face off in a multi year home and away series, with the Bahamas thrown into the mix as a neutral location.
The series begins December 12 as the Wildcats host at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
The following season, the second game in the series, December 2016, will take place in the Bahamas at the Imperial Arena in the Atlantis Resort, home of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The Sun Devils will entire its first season under Bobby Hurley as head coach as the former Duke Blue Devils point guard takes over a team that returns four starters from an 18-16 season.
The Sun Devils appeared in the postseason NIT, while Hurley led the University of Buffalo Bulls to their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history after just two seasons.
The Wildcats finished the season 38-1 overall and after spending the season as the No.1 team in the country, were upset by the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four.
Seven Wildcat underclassmen declared for the NBA Draft, but the Wildcats have retooled with five star freshmen Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere.
The Wildcats will not be the only programme out of the commonwealth of Kentucky to play in the Bahamas during the summer months.
Louisville Hall of Fame head coach, Rick Pitino, has been named the head coach for Puerto Rico to coach two of its national teams this summer.
He will lead Puerto Rico during the Pan American Games in Toronto July 21-25. He will also coach the squad in a 10-team, pre-Olympic FIBA qualifying tournament Aug. 25-Sept. 5 in Monterrey, Mexico.
In preparation for those events, Louisville will play in the Bahamas this August against the Puerto Rico national team and junior squad.
Pitino said he hoped the trip to the Bahamas will benefit his Cardinals the way it benefitted the Wildcats this season.
“The most important reason I’m doing this in terms of Louisville is for that period (in August),” Pitino said, “It really helped Kentucky doing it. It helped us the last time we were in the Bahamas.”
The Bahamas got the first look at the 2014-15 Wildcats at the Big Blue Bahamas Tour last year.
The six-game exhibition series concluded when the Wildcats were edged out by the Dominican Republic national team 63-62 at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
In the opener, the Wildcats won 74-49 in their first matchup with the Puerto Rican national team reserves. They followed with an 81-58 win over the Champagne Charlons-Reims out of France, and a 93-57 win over Puerto Rico to complete the first segment of the tour.
After a pair of off days, they returned to top the Dominican Republic national team, 83-71, defeated the French club in a rematch, 77-72, and closed out with the loss against the DR.