by Tyler Sprinkle – Asst. Sports Editor – [email protected]
UNC Asheville’s basketball profile continues to grow after back-to-back appearances to the Big Dance, and now as hosts of the Charlotte Bobcats’ training camp.
In a few weeks, the Bobcats will arrive in Asheville to use UNCA’s athletic facilities to prepare for their 2012-2013 season. With the hindrance of the NBA lockout, the team was unable to host their training camp outside of their hometown of Charlotte last year, but sought to makes changes this year.
“We went through a process looking for somewhere to train,” Rod Higgins, President of Operations for the Charlotte Bobcats, said. “We were looking for somewhere to get away because we knew getting away was important.”
Previously, UNCA Athletic Director Janet Cone proposed the Bobcats host their training camp on campus, but it did not work out. The Bobcats’ Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield telephoned UNCA this year and Cone had confidence in their decision.
“This year Fred called, and I knew he wouldn’t turn me down again,” Cone said. “And that was the conversation that led to this.”
The Sherrill Center opened in November 2011, consisting of new classrooms, labs, fitness rooms and the Kimmel Arena, which seats up to 3,800 people. After a tour of the facility, Higgins and the Bobcats were set on Asheville as their temporary home this fall.
“From an organizational standpoint, it was two thumbs up for us,” Higgins said.
The Bobcats made the announcement in Kimmel Arena at a press conference last Wednesday with nothing but positive acclamations toward the city of Asheville and high regards for the school.
“They (UNCA Athletics) have a family atmosphere with everyone working together,” Whitfield said. “We hope to bring a lot of visibility to the schools and want to earn some fans here.”
The Bobcats training camp is Oct. 2-6.
There is a possibility of the Bobcats playing a scrimmage open to students in Kimmel Arena, but is still undecided, according to Higgins.