They say you can never go home again, but for 21 of the University of New Mexico's brightest stars they did. Sunday night, each of them was greeted by the cheers of 9,497 rabid New Mexico Lobo fans. Cameron Bairstow Camps gave Albuquerque the closest thing to a pro game they will see when they hosted their Inaugural Lobo All-Star game. The outcome of the game was not important but it was entertaining from a half-court shot by Jamaal Smith to a 360 dunk by Kendall Williams everybody in Cherry and Silver put on a show.
The Cherry squad was comprised of Danny Granger, Chris Perez, Jamaal Smith, Ruben Douglas, AJ Hardeman, Deshawn Delaney, Alex Kirk, Kendall Williams, and JR Giddens. They were coached by Emmanuel Negedu and Kenny Thomas. The Silver squad who was coached by the injured Daniel Farris was made up of game host Cameron Bairstow, Tony Snell, Chad Adams, Darren Prentice, Phillip McDonald, Eric Chatfield, Drew Gordon, Tony Danridge, and Darese Gary.
Each of the squads came out firing with Danny Granger and J.R. Giddens of the Cherry squad looked as if they could not miss from three point range. Granger who had played sparingly over the last season and half looked like his rehab in Phoenix was paying off as if for only one night he looked like the player that was the NBA Most Improved player and an NBA All-Star. While he was he wasn't the leading scorer he looked like he was the best player on the court.
Giddens who scored 31 points had a bounce to his step while making many highlight worthy plays. Ruben Douglas showed that shooters never lose their touch and Kendall Williams showed why he was always a fan favorite. Chris Perez who was relegated to the end of the bench as a walk-on during his tenor scored 11 points.
Alex Kirk, who is going to be playing with Memphis and New York in the Orlando and Vegas Summer Leagues, showed how much he has improved in the last year scoring 32 points and while there was not much defense played in the game he moved well on the court and showed that he has the mobility to run up and down the court. Brooklyn Nets hopeful Deshawn Delaney not only wowed fans in the slam dunk contest he showed fans that in a game full of pro players he was the best athlete on the floor.
On the silver side, Tony Snell looked smooth as usual with a dunk and a few jump shots. Darren Prentice and Chad Adams had a solid game hitting jump shots and hustling all over the floor. Tony Danridge who now looks like a NFL linebacker, showed he still has hops and that he could get up and down the court with the younger players. Phillip McDonald and Darese Gary looked as if they could still suite up for coach Craig Neal. Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk matched for most of the time, they were both on the court and it gave fans a glimpse of how intense practice must have been when they both dawned the Cherry and Silver.
The playful interaction between players is something to remember, it showed that no matter what year you played you were still a member of the Lobo family. Even though many of the players had never played together they were always almost on the same page knowing where each player was going to be which led to spectacular passes and finishes at the rim.
The final score was 127-124 for the Cherry squad but the most important number was 16,000 that is the amount of money that is going to be donated to the UNM Lobo Club and the Pink Pack Foundation. The money came from a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales, raffles and silent auctions. The biggest item was a signed Tony Snell jersey which ended at 1000 dollars. In all $6,000 was raised by the auctions and raffles. There are already plans for something bigger next year and Bairstow said as long as there is interest from the community the game will continue. For more photos of the event visit my Instagram page @RJC1810.