When you go to Rupp Arena to watch the Kentucky Wildcats play, you don’t normally think of the guys who supply the players and coaches with drinks and towels, and mop the floor after timeouts. They help the game flow smoothly, and largely go unrecognized.
However, when your managers/grad assistants consist of two former Cats and some high school studs, you have yourself one dangerous team.
The Manager Cats kicked off their season Thursday night against the Manager Bobcats, one night before the Cats and Bobcats meet in Rupp (7:00, SEC Network). Grad assistants Kevin Gallagher and former Cats Brad Calipari and Riley Welch started alongside 6’9” sophomore manager Ray Surratt and third-year manager Jonas Alger.
Surratt, a 1700 point scorer at Lafayette High School in Lexington finished second in Regional Player of the Year in 2019 to Northern Kentucky star Marques Warrick (Henry Clay). It is his first year as a manager, and he has garnered plenty of attention from fans, as he stands toe to toe with the likes of Oscar Tshiebwe and Daimion Collins in the timeout huddle.
The game was never close, as the Cats would lead 61-41 at halftime and win 106-67. Players TyTy Washington, Sahvir Wheeler, Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins, Lance Ware, Bryce Hopkins and Kareem Watkins showed up to the Craft Center to support their managers.
Alger, who played high school ball at Grant County, was the leading scorer, dropping 30 points (all three-pointers). Brad Calipari finished with 28 points, and Riley Welch dished nine dimes, but was limited due to a finger injury. Surratt posted a near triple double, finishing with 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Off the bench, freshman Clay Smith (Oldham County) posted a near double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine boards.
The Manager Cats start the season 1-0, and will likely take on Albany in their next game.