Billy Kennedy at Hoopalooza

Former Racers head coach Billy Kennedy addresses the crowd in attendance for the Hoopalooza dinner in the CFSB Center Friday night. The even honored the 2009-2010 OVC championship and NCAA first round winning team led by Kennedy.

MURRAY —  A night filled with stars from the past featured Murray State greats like Billy Kennedy, Isaiah Canaan, Danero Thomas and Tony Easley from the 2009-2010 Racers team that defeated Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Inside the Hall of Champions, a highlight video played, showing the Racers’ incredible win against Vanderbilt for all of the players to relive the moment and bask in the greatness once again.

“It’s always a good feeling getting to watch that over and over again,” Thomas said. “It never gets old to me because it still feels like it happened yesterday, even though it’s been 10 years ago. Just a  great group of guys on that team and we put a lot of stuff together. From day one that year, I knew we had a special group from playing four years here and July 1 that year, I just knew we were going to do something special.”

Returning to Murray brought back some other great memories for the guys as well, and they enjoyed getting to see each other and exchange old stories.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes through your mind when you come back and meet your teammates that you played with 10-plus years ago,” Thomas said. “It’s amazing just to get here and reminisce and talk about things that happened when you were here and talk about things that you’re doing now and everybody’s married with kids living in different places, different countries, and a lot of players still playing and still doing well for themselves.”

This grand event was first held in 2013 by former head coach Steve Prohm. 

“Coach Prohm had a vision to create a reunion event that would spotlight the championship tradition at Murray State, the elite players and coaches that have passed through, and the amazing fan base we call ‘Racer Nation’,” said Goracers.com.

Last night the spotlight did just that, by highlighting the 31-win team that won an NCAA tournament game as a 13 seed in San Jose. The win was one of the most memorable upsets in NCAA tournament history. 

Known in Racer lore as simply ‘the shot,’ Thomas said he fields questions about it everywhere he goes as well as other questions that relate to Murray State.

“Everybody brings it up, even overseas,” Thomas said. “People see me and they’re like, ‘Murray State man, the shot, Ja, Isaiah,’ you know, and people talk about Murray everywhere I go, so I’m used to it and it brings joy to my heart to know that where I come from I can have an impact on such a large group of people. It’s amazing to me.”

A line can be traced back to Kennedy’s time with Murray State and a direct connection can be made to the coaching tree that has stemmed off since he left. His assistant Steve Prohm became the head coach and his assistant McMahon is the current head coach. 

The coaches have continued to change and maintain success and meanwhile, the athletics department has continued to grow. The facilities, in particular, caught the eye of Thomas.

“We didn’t have any of this,” Thomas said. “We started from the bottom, so these guys are blessed. They’re lucky and they need to take advantage of this stuff and be thankful, grateful, and just keep playing hard and trying to get that degree.”

After an excellent night of camaraderie and reconnecting, the former Racers will get ready for the golf scramble and the alumni pickup basketball game today.

“I’m loving every bit of it man. This is amazing,” Thomas said.

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