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December 12, 2006Something that Arizona head coach Lute Olson tries to do for all his players is schedule a road game to a school in each Wildcats' hometown. This past weekend, Arizona played at San Diego State so Chase Budinger could have the opportunity to perform in front of his friends and family.
With that theory in mind, St. Mary's High School boys basketball head coach David Lopez scheduled two games in Tucson this season for his star senior, future Wildcat guard Jerryd Bayless.
"It was a thank you thing, just like Lute does," Lopez said. "People in Tucson always wanted to see Jerryd play and it gives us experience as a team so it's definitely a win-win situation."
St. Mary's (4-4) will play at McKale Center on Wednesday, Dec. 13 against Tucson High School (1-4) and at Salpointe Catholic (4-4) on Friday, Dec. 15. Both games are at 7:00pm MST.
For Bayless, it's a great opportunity to finally play in front of his future fans.
"I'm really excited," Bayless said. "I've seen U of A fans for the past four years but I've never had the chance to play for them. It should be a great experience going down there and being able to do that before I go there."
Coach Lopez did what he could to set up a couple of games for Bayless and his team in Tucson and the future Wildcat was excited as soon as he found out.
"I've been looking forward to this," Bayless said. "At the beginning of the season when I found out I was excited to know that I would get to play in front of the U of A fans."
Bayless is considered by some to be the best player in Arizona prep history. Considering the state has produced players such as Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott and Richard Jefferson, he's obviously held in pretty high regard.
With all the hype surrounding Bayless for so long, it's going to be tough for him to treat this week's games in front of the Arizona fans like any others, but that's exactly what he's going to attempt to do.
"Hopefully it's just going to be another game for me," Bayless said. "In all actuality it's not because I'm going to be playing in front of fans of my future school but I'm just trying to take it as another game."
Bayless and Lopez are both hoping for a good crowd to watch St. Mary's play.
"It would be nice to see the (Arizona fans) there," Bayless said. "I know people have a lot of things to do but hopefully there will be people there to see us."
"I don't know what to expect but it should be interesting to see," Lopez said. "I don't know whether we'll have 300 people or 3,000 but we hope for (a big crowd)."
Look for details of Jerryd Bayless' Tucson debut after his game on Wednesday night.