Men’s Basketball: Kentucky to host Florida A&M in 2022 Unity Series
September 15, 2022
The Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team will be hosting the Florida A&M Rattlers on December 21 as part of the Unity Series at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.
The Unity Series was launched successfully in 2021 and has established a five-year partnership with the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The partnership involves having an annual game between Kentucky and one of the SWAC’s institutions and team members.
Rattlers head coach Robert McCullum expressed excitement at the prospect of challenging the Wildcats as part of the Unity Series.
“I’m excited about both the opportunity and challenge of playing the University of Kentucky during the upcoming 2022-23 season as part of the Unity Series,” McCullum said.
Last season’s Unity Series
Last season, Kentucky hosted the SWAC on December 7 in the inaugural Unity series. The institution members of the SWAC are composed of historically black colleges and universities. The games were meant to raise awareness of the HBCU’s missions and raise funds to provide opportunities for students at their institutions.
A year ago, the Wildcats and Southern had an educational trip and visited National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum in Cincinnati. They received resources to improve their brand in the new name-image-likeness space. They were also provided with career center resources and had a joint dinner at John Calipari’s radio show.
"The educational field trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum in Cincinnati aligns perfectly with our approach to scheduling non-conference games annually as we factor in the educational benefits of playing in various locations,” McCullum said.
Kentucky is said to looking forward to expanding and adding the program in 2022. Aside from carrying out last year’s activities, Kentucky and the SWAC will also honor Unity Series legends, a representative from each school with a history as a pioneer in diversity, equality, and inclusion.
Unity Series legends
Kentucky and the SWAC will be honoring to the 2022 Unity Series legends the late Reggie Warford and Clemon Johnson. Warford was from the University of Kentucky while Johnson was from Florida A&M University.
McCullum said he was happy to honor both Warford and Johnson, with him knowing the former well.
"I'm also elated about the 2022 Unity Series Legends Clemon Johnson and the late Reggie Warford,” McCullum said. “I knew Reggie well, and our basketball program continues to benefit from Clemon's love for his alma mater."
Warford was the first black basketball player to be a Kentucky graduate. He was with the Wildcats from 1973-76 and a member of NIT Championship team in 1976, as well as a member of the runner-up team of the 1975 NCAA Tournament.
He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2019. Other than his association with Kentucky, Warford also played for Drakesboro High School in Muhlenburg Country and was a second-team All-State selection. He passed away in May 2022.
Johnson played for the Rattlers from 1974-78. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1978 NBA Draft with the 44th pick overall and played with them for 10 seasons. In 1983, he played with the Philadelphia 76ers and won an NBA title.
Johnson retired from playing and became an economics teacher before going on to become a head coach for a college team. He coached the Alaska Nanooks and also was the head coach for the Rattlers from 2007-2011.
Off-court, Johnson helped establish a Boys and Girls Club in his hometown, Monticello, Florida. He is reportedly creating a community center and is interested in refurbishing the old high school gymnasium in Monticello and intends to establish an after-school program that focused on reading, writing, and sports training.