Men's Basketball

What famous folks might each school bring to Boise for March Madness?

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Drake greet the crowd and members of the team during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2017.
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Drake greet the crowd and members of the team during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2017. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Alumni and alumna are never more proud of their school’s basketball team than when March Madness begins. That also means the more well-known graduates of each school come out of the woodwork this time of year.

As eight teams descend upon Boise this week, starting with Wednesday’s open practices, one can’t help but wonder who may tag along.

One famous face that will definitely be here is Chris Webber, who will be calling the Thursday games for TNT. The former Michigan star, part of the “Fab Five,” was also a five-time NBA All-Star.

ASHLEY JUDD OR DRAKE, KENTUCKY

The Wildcats get two, and both are pretty famous supporters of the program. Judd, the actress, is a graduate of the school and nearly ran for Senate in Kentucky. She’s a frequent spectator at UK games and certainly one of the more famous college basketball superfans.

Drake, called by coach John Calipari as “my friend and a friend of the program” is a fan of many teams, but his Kentucky love is well-known, despite never attending the school. The Canadian rapper/actor appeared at the team’s first practice this season and even suited up with the Wildcats for warmups before their first 2014 practice, though he airballed a 3-point attempt.

STEPH CURRY, DAVIDSON

When the Wildcats open tournament play Thursday, Curry’s Golden State Warriors have an off day before a home game Friday. But then again, Davidson’s all-time leading scorer may need rest. The team canceled practice Tuesday, apparently not in playing condition after Curry’s 30th birthday party Monday night.

Ten years ago, the future NBA MVP led the Wildcats to a miracle run to the Elite Eight. The school’s student section is Section 30, named after him.

KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN, ARIZONA

Yes, she graduated from Arizona. The eldest of the clan finished her degree in theater arts and a minor in Spanish in 2002 in Tucson. There are some other well-known former Wildcats from Kristen Wiig to Rob Gronkowski, but whether you like it or not, a Kardashian in Boise sure would move the needle. Apparently, some of the family likes snowboarding, and that’s not far away.

J.K. SIMMONS, OHIO STATE

One of the all-time great “that guys” of acting, he won an Oscar as best supporting actor for “Whiplash” in 2015. He grew up in Columbus, but moved to Montana when he was 18. Simmons is still a huge Buckeye fan and has an affinity for this area of the country, giving the commencement address at the University of Montana in 2014. LeBron James is a fan, but he has games Thursday and Saturday in Portland and Chicago. Singer John Legend is a big fan, too, but he’s on tour in Asia.

JOHN STOCKTON, GONZAGA

The NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals is plenty familiar with Boise, where he and the Utah Jazz often had training camp and played in a handful of preseason games. Stockton’s son, like him, played for the Zags. Gonzaga’s other most famous player, Adam Morrison, is the team’s radio analyst, so expect to see him on hand.

EMMYLOU HARRIS, UNC GREENSBORO

A 14-time Grammy Award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Harris is a big fan of another sport — baseball. But with the Spartans making just their third appearance in the NCAA Tournament ever, and first since 2001, maybe the former UNCG student will show some support. Or maybe just see her the next time she performs in Boise.

ADAM VINATIERI, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

He has been the NFL’s oldest player since 2013, and he’s still — pardon the pun — kicking. The former Jackrabbit placekicker, 45, recently signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts and needs just 58 points to become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. His nephew, Chase, is the team’s current kicker. Vinatieri is a big hunter, so surely he can find something to do here.

JOHN WALSH, BUFFALO

The former host of “America’s Most Wanted,” he attended the school in the 1960s, where he met his wife of now 37 years. He said he grew up near Buffalo in a “sports-oriented town” and said he “just loved college.”

The school has been around since 1846, founded by future president Millard Fillmore. His ghost might be confused by the sport and by the fact Idaho became a state 16 years after he died. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro graduated a year apart, and it would be kind of funny to see them sit together, right? Sure, they’ve already got plenty to talk about on TV. Also probably not coming? Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, a 1973 graduate.

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