Before he was a Super Bowl MVP in New York, Phil Simms was a kid growing up in Kentucky. And that meant one thing: basketball.
“The craze for basketball down there is real, there’s no question,” said Simms, who didn’t play hoops in high school but said he was good in pickup games with his friends. Simms was a University of Louisville fan, because that’s the city where he grew up, but he added that most of his friends rooted for the University of Kentucky.
“And of course once you go across the state, get out of the Louisville region, it’s all Kentucky,” said Simms. “Kentucky basketball is just something you’re truly born into. It’s part of the culture.”
When you think of Lexington, Kentucky, you think of basketball – and the place to see the best basketball in Lexington is Rupp Arena – home of the Kentucky Wildcats and one of the most iconic basketball arenas in the country. This Sunday, it will be hosting Week 7 of the BIG3.
“When I saw the schedule and saw we were playing in Kentucky – and that we were playing in Rupp Arena – the first thing I thought about was, ‘Wow!’” said Rashard Lewis, player/captain for the 3-Headed Monsters. “Kentucky … this legendary basketball place …
"The BIG3 coming to Rupp Arena is going to be history.”
Surprisingly, there are no BIG3 players from the Bluegrass State. Four BIG3 players – Kenyon Martin and James White from Trilogy and DerMarr Johnson and Ruben Patterson from 3’s Company – played college ball at the university of Cincinnati, less than two hours from Lexington. The 3-Headed Monsters’ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, back when he was at LSU and went by the name of Chris Jackson, last played at Rupp Arena in 1990. He scored 41 in a tough loss to Kentucky that day.
Being such a basketball crazy state, Kentucky has produced some all-time great basketball players.
Growing up in Louisville, Simms recalled his father taking him to a high school game when he was 9 or 10 years old.
“He said we were going because he wanted to see this big kid who was playing for Seneca High School,” said Simms. “We went there, the place was packed, overflowing with people. They were there to see a kid named Wes Unseld.”
Unseld went from there to the University of Louisville, to the Washington Wizards, where he won an NBA title, and then on to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
A few years after seeing Unseld in high school, Simms remembers another big prep star in town – Darrell Griffith, a.k.a. Dr. Dunkenstein.
“When Darrell Griffith was in high school, he was like a superstar in Kentucky,” said Simms. “No matter where he played, it was standing room only. When I was in college and came home during winter break, I’d go see him play. I saw him twice.”
Like Unseld, Griffith stayed at home and went to college at Louisville. But despite the Cardinals’ great tradition of success, Lexington remains the epicenter of Kentucky basketball.
Former Kentucky standouts Rex Chapman and Rajon Rondo are among the UK alumni expected to be in attendance for the BIG3 action at Rupp Arena. So is current Orlando Magic guard Shelvin Mack, who was born in Lexington.
Three members of the 2017 Wildcats – De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo -- were first-round picks in this year’s NBA draft. It’s too soon to say where they’ll end up on the list of greatest players in school history. Earlier this year, The Sporting News ranked the 10 best Kentucky Wildcats. Here’s their list:
By Craig Ellenport
We wondered aloud last week if the return of Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups, would mean fewer points for his Killer 3s teammate, Stephen Jackson. We pointed out that Jackson had averaged 21.7 ppg in three games without Billups, but the average dipped to 18 in two games with him.
So what happened in game 6? No letup for Jackson – he scored 23 in the Killer 3s’ big win over the Ball Hogs, and he remains second in the BIG3 in scoring at 21.0 ppg. Billups, on the other hand, was a bit rusty in his return to the floor, finishing with 8 points – though he did sink his fourth 4-pointer of the season.
Expect Billups to shake off the rust and have a big game this week as the Killer 3s take on 3’s Company. But regardless of your preference between the Killer 3s’ two big scorers, keep in mind that neither of them is the team’s best fantasy producer. That honor belongs to Reggie Evans.
Evans is miles ahead of the rest of the league in total rebounds, and that has fueled his climb to fifth on the list of top fantasy leaders. He remains the only BIG3 player averaging double digits in both points and rebounds.
Thanks to his 15 points and 18 rebounds last week, Evans scored 33.5 fantasy points. That would have been good for top fantasy producer most weeks, but not with the monster game produced by Andre Owens of 3’s Company. Owens (25 points including four 3-pointers, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 1 steal) put up a mammoth 45.5 fantasy points, which also vaulted him to the top spot among fantasy scorers for the season.
You can check the entire fantasy leaderboard here. These are the top 10 fantasy producers for the season:
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 180
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 152.5
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 149.5
Cuttino Mobley, Power 142
Reggie Evans, Killer 3s 137
James White, Trilogy 128.5
DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company 122.5
Al Harrington, Trilogy 120.5
Stephen Jackson, Killer 3s 120
Derrick Byars, Ball Hogs 118
It’s easy to see how Owens has become the leading fantasy scorer. He is the only BIG3 player ranked in the top 6 in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 22.5
Stephen Jackson, Killer 3s 21.0
Cuttino Mobley, Power 20.0
Rashad McCants, Trilogy 18.2
Al Harrington, Trilogy 15.7
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 15.5
Ricky Davis, Ghost Ballers 15.0
Rasual Butler, Ball Hogs 14.8
Chauncey Billups, Killer 3s 14.7
Mike James, Tri-State 14.3
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 14.3
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 21
Rasual Butler, Power 17
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 13
Mike James, Tri-State 11
Derrick Byars, Ball Hogs 11
Rashad McCants, Trilogy 11
Cuttino Mobley, Power 10
DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company 9
Reggie Evans, Killer 3s 74
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 48
Jerome Williams, Power 47
Kwame Brown, 3-Headed Monsters 43
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 41
Bonzi Wells, Tri-State 39
Ivan Johnson, Ghost Ballers 37
Al Harrington, Trilogy 36
James White, Trilogy 35
Cuttino Mobley, Power 33
Mike Bibby, Ghost Ballers 20
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 3-Headed Monsters 17
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 17
Cuttino Mobley, Power 17
Ivan Johnson, Ghost Ballers 15
Al Harrington, Trilogy 14
Mike James, Tri-State 14
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 13
James White, Trilogy 13
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 13
Cuttino Mobley, Power 6
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 3-Headed Monsters 6
Mike James, Tri-State 6
Rasual Butler, Ball Hogs 6
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 5
Ricky Davis, Ghost Ballers 5
Kwame Brown, 3-Headed Monsters 5
Andre Owens, 3’s Company 5
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 6
DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company 6
Josh Childress, Ball Hogs 4
Reggie Evans, Killer 3s 4
Cuttino Mobley, Power 4
Rashad McCants, Trilogy 4
Rasual Butler, Ball Hogs 4
Lou Amundson, Tri-State 4
Four more double-doubles in Week 6: Reggie Evans (15 points, 18 rebounds), Bonzi Wells (13, 11), Rasual Butler (14, 12), and Andre Owens (25, 11). For Evans, it was his league-leading fourth double-double of the season.
Four 4-point shots were made in Week 6 (4-for-14). Billups, having only played three games this season, is the only BIG3 player averaging 1 4-pointer per game. Rashad McCants became the fifth player to hit more than one for the season.
There are now 11 players who have hit at least one 4-pointer:
Mike Bibby, Ghost Ballers 5
Chauncey Billups, Killer 3s 4
DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company 3
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 2
Rashad McCants, Trilogy 2
Derrick Byars, Ball Hogs 1
Cuttino Mobley, Power 1
Mike James, Tri-State 1
Stephen Jackson, Killer 3s 1
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 1
Xavier Silas, Ball Hogs 1
As a reminder, game-winning shots are worth 4 fantasy points. Mo Evans, in his first game since being traded to the Killer 3s, hit a game-winning shot – his only 2 points of the game. … Rashard Lewis hit his third game-winner of the season, tying him with DeShawn Stevenson and Al Harrington for the league lead.
Of the 15 players who have hit game-winning shots this season, six players have done it more than once. They are:
DeShawn Stevenson, Power 3
Al Harrington, Trilogy 3
Rashard Lewis, 3-Headed Monsters 3
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 3-Headed Monsters 2
Ricky Davis, Ghost Ballers 2
James White, Trilogy 2
Others who have hit one game-winner:
DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company
Cuttino Mobley, Power
Derrick Byars, Ball Hogs
Mike Bibby, Ghost Ballers
Stephen Jackson, Killer 3s
Dion Glover, Trilogy
Bonzi Wells, Tri-State
Andre Owens, 3’s Company
Mo Evans, Killer 3s
By Andre Owens
Word to the wise: Don’t get in my way.
I will conquer everything that’s put in front of me. I will silence all critics. That’s why I’ve decided to change my name. No more Andre Owens. From now on, call me Rambo. No last name. Just Rambo.