Both sides have confirmed that the reported exhibition between the Big Blue All-Stars and Georgetown College in the Fieldhouse in Maysville on Oct. 10 is on.
Jeff Sheppard, a former Wildcat who is organizing the All-Stars' five-game tour, was in Maysville on Thursday to sell tickets. He estimated he sold about 800 through Thursday afternoon.
Why stage the exhibition in the Fieldhouse?
"Maysville has a rich tradition of basketball. You also have a big gym," Sheppard said. "So two plus two equals four. Crazy basketball fans and a big gym to pack it full of fans to enjoy a great exhibition game as we're kind of rolling into basketball season. Just a great way to kick it off."
Sheppard was happy about how quickly tickets were selling, despite initial questions whether the game would go on, which both Sheppard and Georgetown athletic director Brian Evans put to bed Thursday.
The former Kentucky guard, who was named the Final Four most outstanding player when the 'Cats won the national title in 1998, took the time to interact with fans while selling tickets in the Fieldhouse ticket office Thursday.
"I'm a huge fan," a buyer said as he purchased a pair of tickets.
"This'll be a fun night," Sheppard responded.
"You playing?" the fan asked.
"No," Sheppard said, laughing. "You don't want me playing. I'll be running my mouth. I'll be out there with the microphone."
Sheppard said fans were already lined up outside the ticket office when he showed up at 6:45 a.m.
The so-far-enlisted players for the tour are a veritable who's who of recent 'Cats, and all are currently in the NBA: The Clippers' Eric Bledsoe, the Kinds' DeMarcus Cousins, the Knicks' Josh Harrellson, the Rockets' Chuck Hayes, the Pistons' Brandon Knight, the Magic's DeAndre Liggins, the 76ers' Jodie Meeks and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo.
Sheppard made sure to point out those eight players have "verbally committed" to play at some point on the tour, but it's unlikely all eight will perform at the Fieldhouse.
"Five or six of that eight are gonna be at each stop," Sheppard said. "Which five or six, we're still working that out, figuring that out."
Sheppard said he used his "connections" and experience playing and managing barnstorming tours, including Harrellson's recent "Jorts" tour, to get this one put together.
"Kentucky fans show up in droves to these barnstorming games," he said. "I just love this kind of stuff ... and the timing is just kind of the perfect storm. You've got the guys on lockout, and they're looking to stay active and do different things."
Sheppard owns an apparel company and works for Wazoo Sports, where he built the relationships with the NAIA schools -- Georgetown, Pikeville, Alice Lloyd, Union and Mid-Continent -- who will serve as the all-stars' foes.
"I wanted the (schools) to benefit, I wanted the Kentucky fans to benefit, I wanted the players to benefit, I wanted the local schools, the high schools to benefit, the colleges to benefit, so it's all coming together," he said.
The all-stars roster "isn't finalized yet," he said. He said he anticipated having that done by "Friday or Monday," after which will come an official announcement.
The Tigers have a connection to Maysville in the form of Royals alumnus and junior guard Russ Middleton.
First-year Georgetown coach Chris Briggs said the game will just help his team prepare for the upcoming season, saying, "all you can do is win in that situation."
"We want to welcome the challenge," Briggs said by phone Thursday. "You don't get better playing against somebody far weaker than you, you get better by playing the best competition you can."
Evans said there's plenty for Georgetown to gain from this experience.
"From an athletic standpoint, I think it does a great deal for us from a visibility standpoint," he said by phone Thursday. "Also, it does something for our student-athletes to be able to play against athletes that played at the flagship program of our state, but then also athletes that play professionally and gives them an opportunity to measure themselves and get excited and give them some encouragement as to where they're at and how far they've come and where they need to get to."
Sheppard said he plans to come back to Maysville between now and Oct. 10 to further promote the event.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased up until game day at the high school central office. T-shirts are on sale for $10 for pre-orders and will be $15 at the game. Sheppard said posters will also be on sale at the event.
Until then, Sheppard remains "excited" about the tour to come.
"I played in some barnstorming games when I was in college in 1998. We just had great turnouts, and it's such a fun atmosphere and it's just really neat," he said. "It's really an honor to play, and that's why I want to do this so badly, because I know what it means to the community to try to put something together."