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UCLA, Kentucky to Meet in Wooden Classic

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The first John R. Wooden Classic, featuring a game between UCLA and Kentucky, will be held Dec. 3 at Anaheim Arena, it was announced Tuesday. Kansas will meet Massachusetts in the second game of the doubleheader.

UCLA and Kentucky have not met since the 1975 NCAA final that marked Wooden’s last game as a coach and his 10th national title. Both games will be nationally televised, the first starting at 10:30 a.m. Tickets will go on sale in June.

Wooden joined three of his most famous former players--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Michael Warren--for Tuesday’s announcement in Anaheim.

“I’m flattered and proud,” he said. “You have to keep your ego in the proper perspective, but I’m glad they saw fit to name this event in my honor. I think it can become something very worthwhile.”

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It has been a busy past seven months for Randy Ryan, who will serve as the event’s president, and J.T. Visbal, who will be executive vice president. The two dreamed up the event and organized it.

Ryan said response from college coaches has been positive.

“It certainly didn’t take lot of effort to get people involved who wanted to honor Coach Wooden,” Ryan said. “Every major basketball program that we’ve talked to has indicated that they want to participate whenever they’re invited.”

Ryan said no commitments have been made after the first year.

The presence of Abdul-Jabbar, Walton and Warren at a news conference underlined the magic Wooden’s name adds to the event.

“John Wooden and the word classic go hand in hand,” Walton said.

Warren, noting Wooden’s philosophy, said playing was more important than awards.

“That’s why I think having an event of this type named after him is so fitting,” he said.

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