In the midst of Kentucky's football team making a run for the SEC East title (and dare I say a playoff berth), we begin to learn more about what Kentucky basketball's season will look like. As a continuation of Kentucky's Unity Series, Kentucky will host Florida A&M on December 21, 2022 in Rupp Arena as a part of their non-conference schedule.
The Unity Series, an annual event intended to connect the University of Kentucky to an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) from the SWAC, kicked off last year with Kentucky hosting Southern, a game in which the Cats won fairly narrowly, going into half only up 4 and winning the game 76-64. However, the game on the basketball court is just one part of the week long event. Last year, we saw our players and coaches meet with Southern's and go on a guided tour of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum in Cincinnati. TJ Beisner, the Director of Player Development, also met with Southern's team to give them guidance on the recently introduced NIL opportunities available to them.
Florida A&M will be the second matchup of the five year series, and we can expect similar events off of the court to take place this year. This year, the teams will honor two 2022 Unity Series Legends: Reggie Watford, the first Black men’s basketball player to graduate from the University of Kentucky, and Clemon Johnson, Florida A&M alumnus and 10 year NBA veteran.
John Calipari is one of the most accomplished coaches in Kentucky basketball history. With four Final-Fours, three first overall draft picks, and hanging up the eighth National Championship banner in school history, Coach Cal has used his tenure as head coach to return Kentucky to the "Gold Standard" of college basketball. However, it is his activism off the court where his impact proves to be the strongest. Before the inaugural event last season, Calipari stated, “My hope is this event not only opens the door for opportunities for students at HBCUs, but that others at our school and across the country will take advantage of the educational opportunities that we will put together to continue the meaningful conversations and changes that have taken place over the last year.” John Calipari continues to prove that putting others first, especially his players, will always be at the top of his priority.