Courtesy of Kansas Athletics
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas men’s basketball will travel to the University of Illinois and partner with the Fighting Illini in a charity exhibition game set for Oct. 29 at State Farm Center, with proceeds from the game being donated to the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund, providing financial resources to the relief efforts from the devastating Maui wildfires.
The exhibition game is set for 5 p.m., and will be televised by BTN.
“For decades, the Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have been very important to college basketball and our thoughts and prayers go to that entire community as they recover from such a tragic event,” Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said. “(Illinois coach Brad Underwood) and I discussed how our private scrimmage could become an exhibition game to raise money to benefit the so many affected by the recent catastrophic fires in Maui. We both felt this would be a great way for our programs to create awareness to help this cause.”
“This upcoming season will be the sixth time my teams have participated in this event,” Self added. “The people of Maui have always made our stay a lifelong highlight. This is a small way we can help a community that has been so good to so many for so long.”
As part of the unique partnership with Illinois, KU also will be provided an allotment of tickets that is larger than what is traditionally provided to a visiting team. All ticket sales information, and further details regarding the game, will be announced soon.
“It is heartbreaking to see the loss of life and devastation from the fires that have ravaged Lahaina,” Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood said. “The Maui Invitational is an integral part of college basketball, and we are thinking of everyone on the island of Maui who have felt the impact of this tragedy. Bill and I talked immediately about how we could come together to help, and turning our closed scrimmage into a charity exhibition is a way we can use our sport to make an impact.”
“The spotlight of this game, heightened by Bill’s return to Champaign, should raise meaningful dollars that will go directly help the community of Lahaina.”
Self is entering his 21st season at KU where he has guided the Jayhawks to two NCAA National titles, four Final Fours, 17 Big 12 regular-season titles and nine Big 12 Tournament crowns. A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2017 inductee, Self came to Kansas from Illinois where he coached the Illini for three seasons from 2000-01 to 2002-03. While at Illinois, Self was 78-24 with two Big Ten regular-season titles (2001, 2002) and one Big Ten Tournament championship in 2003. Illinois advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2001 under Self.
No. 1 on many preseason polls, Kansas returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s 28-8 team that won the Big 12 regular season with a 13-5 record. KU has 10 newcomers on its roster with five via the transfer portal and five freshmen.
Kansas has participated in a preseason exhibition contest to raise money for relief efforts before. In 2017, KU and Missouri played in the Showdown for Relief on Oct. 13 as an opportunity to raise funds for hurricane relief efforts that occurred in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game sold out within two days and public tickets were never available. Nine days later, on Oct. 22, Kansas defeated Missouri, 93-87, before a crowd of 18,951 in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, and the event raised in excess of $2 million for hurricane victims.
Underwood is entering his seventh season at Illinois, where the Illini have made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, own four straight 20-win regular seasons, and have recorded four straight top-five Big Ten finishes highlighted by a league-best 16 wins and tournament title in 2021 and 15 wins en route to the regular season crown in 2022. Illinois is the Big Ten’s winningest team in conference play over the last four years, with Underwood directing the program to a 55-25 record. The 55 Big Ten wins are the most over a four-year stretch in school history
Illinois features one of the oldest rosters in the nation, returning three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 20-13 team that appeared in the NCAA Tournament and finished fifth in the Big Ten at 11-9. The Illini have seven newcomers, highlighted by the addition of three graduate transfers and two freshmen.