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Ruben Douglas of Bell-Jeff Scores 16
At Derby Festival Basketball Classic--(April 27,1998)

While his fellow SoCal players were busy either at the Double Pump Classic at Dominguez Hills on Saturday, or the Costa Mesa Kiwanis North-South All-Star game in Orange County, Ruben Douglas (6'-5" Sr. PG/SG) of Bell-Jeff, who is headed for Arizona next year, was making a big impact at the Derby Festival Basketball Classic played at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky as a part of the kick-off of the pre-Kentucky Derby festivities.

And while Ruben was not the most celebrated of the players to attend, and did not receive the most coverage, he still performed very credibly: He played 21 minutes, hit 5-14 from the field, 5-6 on free throws, had four rebounds and a total of 16 points. Even if they did spell his name wrong in the box score ("Douglass"), he still played well.

Of course, he wasn't, by any means, the "star" of the game. That honor was reserved for the night's best player, Chicago native Quentin Richardson, who's headed to DePaul. He pulled off an unusual if not unprecedented triple achievement. He won the three-point shooting and slam-dunk contests at halftime. In the game, he led everyone with 40 points and 18 rebounds.

Kentucky's favorite son honors went to Todd Tackett. He scored 22 points. Even one of the referees, high school official David Carter of Frankfort, got in line for Todd Tackett's autograph after the game. Tackett, whose signing with the Cats earlier this month stunned many UK fans, won his team's most valuable player award after the Derby Festival Basketball Classic in Freedom Hall. The guard from Paintsville scored 22 points and sparked a third-quarter breakout that led the Purple team (which included all four UK recruits) to a 157-140 victory.

157-140? What were they playing, 50 minute quarters?

Here's who played:

Purple Squad:

J.P. Blevins (6'-2" Sr. G) Edmonton Metcalfe County, KY,
Erick Barkley (6'-1" Sr. G) Pittsfield Maine Central Institute, ME,
Ronald Blackshear (6'-4" Sr. G) Camilla Mitchell Baker, GA,
Desmond Allison (6'-6" Sr. F) Tampa Robinson, FL,
David Graves (6'-6" Sr. F) Lexington Catholic, KY,
Harold Swanagan (6'-7" Sr. F) Hopkinsville University Heights, KY,
Michael Wright (6'-8" Sr. F) Chicago Farragut, IL,
Souleymane Camara (6'-11" Sr. C) Mouth of Wilson Oak Hill, VA,
Tony Kitchings (6'-11" Sr. C) Aiken High, South Aiken, SC.

White Squad:

Ruben Douglas (6'-5" Sr. PG/SG) Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson, CA,
Quentin Richardson (6'-5" Sr. G/F) Chicago Whitney Young
Ted Dupay (5'-9" Sr. PG) Cape Coral Mariner, Florida,
Cordell Henry (5'-9" Sr. PG) Chicago Whitney Young
Anthony Grundy (6'-2" Sr. SG) Chatham Hargrave Military, VA,
Janerio Spurlock (6'-5" Sr. G/F) Cincinnati Aiken, OH,
BB. Waldon (6'-9" Sr. F/C) Lakeland Kathleen, Florida,
Carlos Kimbro (6'-9" Sr. F/C) Memphis Kingsbury, TN,
Ajou Ajou Deng (6'-10" Sr. C) Oakdale St. Thomas, CT,
J.R. Van Hoose (6'-9" Sr. F) Paintsville High School, Paintsville,

During the breakout run, Tackett hit two three-pointers and threw a nifty pass that netted a dunk for future teammate Desmond Allison. He even accomplished an all-star game rarity: He took not one, but two charges. "I think they ran into me," Tackett joked when asked about the charges. "I think they went the wrong way." But Tackett's play proved there was nothing funny about his signing with UK. "It's great to come out here with such top-notch players and be able to hold my own," he said. "I know I have to get a lot stronger if I want to go to the level I want to go to. And I have to work on my open-court ball handling. If I do, I think I can be a productive player."

And J.P. Blevins, who showed he could beat a McDonald's All-American off the dribble, issued a personal statement of vindication. Blevins, whose recruitment by UK went beyond surprise to outright doubt, showed early on he could play in this competitive level. Less than two minutes into the game, the point guard from Metcalfe County lost Florida-bound McDonald's All-American Ted Dupay with a behind-the-back dribble. Then Blevins rose for a bank shot. He finished with 12 points and seven assists. "I don't know what he thought," Blevins said of his severest critic, recruiting analyst Clark Francis, who sat at courtside. "But hopefully this erased the doubts anybody else had."

The Louiville Journal reported that "A crowd of only 7,253 -- about a third of Freedom Hall capacity -- saw the game." Boy, Phil Gatton and the Pump Brothers are foaming at the mouth thinking about 7,000 fans- by comparison, the attendance figures for the Eddie Jones Classic and the Double Pump were miniscule. Just goes to show what happens when the local papers actually work with the organizers instead of ignoring them.

Future UK players seemingly passed a baton in showing the crowd they could play. After Blevins did well early, he gave way to center Souleymane "Jules" Camara. Camara, who had 22 points, showed good hands, making several catches in traffic. Once he got the ball, Camara showed he knew several avenues to the basket. In scoring, he lost a defender by faking a fadeaway, then driving and hitting a floating shot, then caught a pass in traffic, pivoted and hit a baby hook, then caught a pass in the low-post, turned to the baseline, then pivoted back to free himself for a left-handed flip shot over Connecticut-bound Ajou Ajou Deng.

Then it was Tackett's turn. The guard from Paintsville showed his versatility and knack for the game by making plays at both ends of the floor. He dunked a lob pass from McDonald's All-America point guard Erick Barkley. He pulled up on the fast break for a three-pointer. Tackett admitted he felt pressure to play well. His more celebrated teammate, J.R. VanHoose (who led the winning team with 23 points and 13 rebounds) was the player Kentucky felt pressure to recruit. "It's a lot of pressure," Tackett said of feeling the need to play well. "It's real tough." Tackett was chosen MVP by the largely partisan promoters.

Here's the box score from the Lexington Herald-Leader Online:

PURPLE (157)

NAME ............. min..... fg-a...... 3-pt........ft-a...rb....a.....pf...tp
Tackett ............ 24 ..... 8-18 ..... 4-11 ..... 2-2 ... 2 ... 2 ... 3 ...22
Blevins ............ 24 ..... 5-11 ..... 1-5 ....... 1-1 ... 1 ... 7 ... 3 ...12
Blackshear ..... 24 ..... 7-15 ..... 3-10 ..... 3-5 ... 6 ... 0 ...3 ... 20
Barkley ............ 24 ..... 4-10 ..... 0-4 ....... 1-2 ... 4 ...15 ...6 ... 9
Walden ............ 25 ..... 5-10 ......0-1 ........ 4-1 ... 9 ... 2 ... 5 ...14
Grundy ............ 24 ..... 5-15 ..... 2-4 ........ 2-3 ... 5 ... 3 ... 0 ...14
Allison ............. 17 ....... 5-9 ...... 0-3 ....... 0-0 ... 3 ... 1 ... 3 ...10
Graves ............ 19 ........3-6 ...... 1-3 ........ 2-2 ... 5 ... 2 ... 1 ... 9
Camara ........... 20 ... ..9-12 ...... 0-0 ........4-6 ... 9 ... 2 ... 6 ... 22
Swanagan ..... 11 ....... 1-2 ....... 0-0 ....... 0-0 ... 4 ... 0 ... 1 .... 2
VanHoose ..... 28 ...... 0-16 ...... 0-0 ....... 3-4 ...13... 1 ... 5 ... 23
Team ... ................................ ... ... ... 5
Totals ............240..62-124..11-41..22-33..66..33..35..157

WHITE (140)
NAME ............mi.......fg-a......3-pt......ft-a......rb.....a...pf...tp
Henry ........... 25 ..... 1-7 .......0-2 ...... 0-0 ..... 1..... 5 ... 1 ... 2
Wright .......... 33 ... 12-18 .....0-0 ..... 3-7 ..... 12... 0 ... 4 ... 27
Dupay .......... 25 .... 3-14 ......3-11 ... 6-10 ... 8 .... 5 ... 2 ... 15
Bailey .......... 16 ..... 3-6 ........1-3 ...... 0-1 ..... 3 .... 2 ... 1 ... 7
Douglas ....... 21 .... 5-14 ..... 1-6 ...... 5-6 .....4 .....1 ... 4 ... 16
Spurlock ...... 25 ..... 2-7 ...... 0-4 ...... 6-8 .... 4 .....1 ... 3 ... 10
Williams .......18 ..... 0-2 ........ 0-1 ...... 0-1 .... 5 .... 1 ... 0 ... 0
Ledoux ........11 ..... 2-7 ........ 0-0 ...... 0-0 .... 4 .... 0 ... 2 ... 6
Richardson 28 ... 18-30 ...... 1-7 ...... 3-5 ....18.... 3 ... 2 ... 40
Deng ........... 18 ..... 1-6 ........ 0-2 ...... 2-2 ..... 7.... 3 ... 4 ... 4
Kimbro ........ 20 ... 5-10 ........ 0-1 ...... 3-4 .... 6 ....1 ... 4 ... 13
Team ................................. ... ... ... ... 4
Totals ... 240..53-121..6-37..28-44..76..22..27..140

Purple ... 39 ... 34 ... 36 ... 48 --157
White .... 25 ... 39 ... 32 ... 44 --140

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