Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monmouth to meet Kentucky at MSG in December, return game in Lexington next season

Micah Seaborn and Monmouth added huge cache to non-conference schedule Tuesday, as Hawks announced two-year agreement with Kentucky beginning in December. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

For the past two years, Monmouth has emerged from its mid-major shell to become a nationally recognized brand, winning 55 games and a pair of regular season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships to solidify its standing as a quality program on the rise.

The Hawks have gained widespread attention as a result of their successful exploits, and even after graduating five of their top seven scorers, remain firmly on the radar of the college basketball elite, as evidenced Tuesday afternoon when Monmouth announced the consummation of a two-year series against none other than the University of Kentucky.

The front end of the agreement will see John Calipari and the Wildcats squaring off against the Hawks on December 9 inside Madison Square Garden, a venue in which Monmouth has not competed since 1997, and a hopeful destination during each of the ill-fated National Invitation Tournament runs of the past two seasons. The 2018-19 reprisal, with a date to be determined, sends the Hawks to Rupp Arena in Lexington.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to play against Kentucky for the next two years, and I've looked up to Coach Calipari for a long time," head coach King Rice said in a release issued through the university. "I've always had the utmost respect for Coach Calipari, and when we had the chance to play, it shows how much he valued our friendship."

The two games mark the first-ever meetings between Monmouth and Kentucky, with this December's clash being billed as the Citi Double Cash Classic. At the present time, the Asbury Park Press' Josh Newman reports that it is still unknown as to whether the game will be a standalone event or part of a doubleheader. And while the Hawks will embark upon life without two-time MAAC Player of the Year Justin Robinson, a young; yet experienced, core of players headlined by rising junior and first team all-MAAC guard Micah Seaborn will lead Monmouth into battle against Kentucky's latest crop of five-star recruits, a group headlined by 6-foot-11 Patrick School alumnus Nick Richards and recent commit Kevin Knox.

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