Madness back in McKale

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 14, 2005

It may no longer be at midnight, but the madness continues today in McKale Center.

The renamed McKale Madness, which officially begins the Arizona men's basketball team's 2005-2006 season, will be hosted by "Best Damn Sports Show" panelist and former NBA player John Salley. Events begin at 9 p.m.

The evening will feature a surfeit of fan-friendly events, including a slam dunk contest, a 3-point shootout and a 20-minute scrimmage involving Wildcat players, as well as T-shirt and poster giveaways, a player-autograph session and a $10,000 shot for one fan.

"It's a great thing for people who maybe don't have the opportunity to get (season) tickets to see the guys up close. Plus, they get autographs," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner. "It's important that we get a great atmosphere."

Admission to the event, which will follow the Arizona volleyball team's match against California at 7 p.m., is free starting at 9 p.m.

The dunk contest will have four participants, including defending champion Hassan Adams, sophomore guard Jawann McClellan, freshman forward Fendi Onobun and a special guest.

"I expect (Hassan) to defend his title this year, but I do think that Fendi will give him a challenge because of Fendi's athleticism," Pastner said.

Player introductions are tentatively slated for 10:15 p.m.

"We can't wait," said senior forward Isaiah Fox. "We're really looking forward to everything."

Four potential Arizona recruits will be in attendance, including 2006 jewel Chase Budinger, who was present at last year's Madness and has committed to Arizona.

"He's very excited," said Trent Suzuki, Budinger's trainer.

The other targets in attendance will include 7-foot high school junior center Alex Jacobson and freshman twins David and Travis Wear, all of Mater Dei High School in California.

Jerryd Bayless, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound point guard ranked No. 11 overall in Rivals Top 100 of the 2007 class, is also expected to show up. A junior at St. Mary's High School in Phoenix, he comes from the same program as former Arizona center Channing Frye and is also considering Texas and defending national champion North Carolina.

"It's a great recruiting tool for us," Pastner said of the night. "So it's a win-win in every which area you look at it."

Last year's scrimmage pitted the Wildcats' underclassmen against the upperclassmen and ended in a 42-42 tie.

Zachariah Selwyn, a finalist on the ESPN show "Dream Job," played host after Madness was cancelled in 2003.

The event no longer signifies Arizona's first official practice because NCAA rules allowed teams to have two, two-hour practices per week prior to today.

Salley, a four-time NBA champion, hosted Connecticut's Midnight Madness before the 2003-2004 season, Pastner said.

"(The Huskies) won the national championship (that season), so we're hoping we can do the same thing, and he'd bring the same effect," he said. "We're fortunate to have him, and it'll make the night that much better."

Arizona returns 10 players from last year's Elite Eight squad that went 30-7 and won the Pacific 10 Conference Championship.

"We're obviously excited with the group of young men that we have to coach, and we think it's going to be a great year," Pastner said.