MADISONVILLE, KY (4/28/2012) – At 11:30 AM today, Doron Lamb pulled into the Wildcat Wearhouse parking lot in Madisonville and found himself in the middle of a party atmosphere. The Big Blue Nation faithful were lined up in droves to greet the UK basketball champion, who exited his vehicle to the UK fight song being blared over the PA system and the smell of Tru Blu Barbeque billowing from the smoker.
Passionate fans began assembling at all hours of the morning, and UK devotees Cody Baird and Matthew McGrady were among the first to line up for the event. “I got here around 5:30 this morning,” said Baird. “We’re going to get some autographs and then we’re going to Henderson to meet Darius Miller.”
Not to be outdone, McGrady arrived at the scene at 12:30 AM last night. “I love Kentucky,” added McGrady. “I’m just a part of the Big Blue Nation.”
At the very front of the line, accompanied by his grandparents Brenda and Billy Alford, was little Andrew Hernandez. While shopping at Wildcat Wearhouse on Thursday, Brenda had found the single Golden Ticket folded in a tee shirt, allowing the family to jump the line and be the first fans to meet Lamb.
Pro Player Solutions organized the event, and founder Matt DiLorenzo was on hand. “We are a sports management group. We don’t represent players as far as their dealings with their teams. We take care of everything off of the field from marketing, promotions, helping their families travel, helping them with event tickets—basically a one-stop-shop so they don’t have to get online and start hunting around for their needs,” explained DiLorenzo.
He added, “These events are important for a few reasons: Most importantly, it allows the players to come out and connect with fans. The players in this group have all said that the fans played a huge role in them winning the championship. A lot of these guys aren’t from KY… we want to let them see what Kentucky is. Places like these are where you really can see what the roots of the KY fan base are.”
While some UK basketball fans have had a negative response to the players charging a fee for signing autographs, others are fine with the fee and understand that, although NBA contracts are forthcoming for many players, this is the first chance they have had to enjoy a revenue for their efforts. “Do the players make some money from these events? Yes. But at the same time they are giving some of the proceeds back to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and also gives them a chance to give back to the fans,” said DiLorenzo.
SurfKY News spoke with Lamb briefly before his signing session. He stated that he was excited about the upcoming NBA draft and the opportunity to play at the next level. “I’ve been working on getting in shape, getting my jumper ready—just getting ready for their workouts,” said Lamb. “I’ve been having a blast going to all the small cities and towns and showing the fans that I love them.”
From Madisonville, Lamb moves on to Owensboro for another signing event. There is still no word yet on when other Wildcats will be visiting the store. SurfKY will keep readers updated on these dates and times as they become available.
Photos taken by Jeff Harp of Focus Photography LLC
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