A Visit With Patrick Sparks

Being a member of the University of Kentucky basketball team, Patrick Sparks (Central City, Ky./Kentucky) has an understanding of what tradition and history are all about.
Sparks, in Izmir, Turkey for the 2005 Summer World University Games, got a taste of history of a different sort on Monday, when he and his USA men's basketball teammates made a side trip to Ephesus to visit the ancient ruin city that 2,000 years ago was the second largest city in the world.

"I have enjoyed getting to know everybody and having the chance to represent my country and play a little basketball, it's been a lot of fun," said Sparks of his experience overseas. "This is the first time I have ever been out of the country and used a passport. It's been an exciting experience."

Men's basketball had the day off as they prepare for the preliminary second round which will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 16 when the USA plays China at 5:15 p.m. at Ege University Sports Hall.

The Americans went 3-0 in pool play with wins over Iran, Slovakia and Germany, outscoring the opposition by an average of 24.0 points per game.

Sparks, who averaged 11.0 points per game at Kentucky his junior season, has adjusted to a different role with the USA, coming off of the bench at the shooting guard position.

"It's been an adjustment, but I'm just trying to see what the coaches want from me and then try to do it the best that I can to help the team," said Sparks, who has five points and three assists in the Games.

With the three wins in 2005, the USA has now won 50 of its last 51 World University Games.

"This is why we came over here, for the medal rounds," Sparks said. "Hopefully we can keep winning and advancing. There are a lot of good teams over here. We have to execute and stick with the game plan."

For Sparks it has been a busy summer. First participating and earning a spot at the USA Basketball World University Games Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo., and only a few days later finding himself in Turkey.

"This helps you overall as a person," Sparks said. "Not only does it help your game, but all parts of your life. You get to see a lot of things you normally wouldn't see. You get to see athletes from different schools and talk about how they do things and experience different things in different ways."

After the Games conclude on Aug. 21, Sparks looks forward to returning home to Kentucky.

"Getting to see other people besides in a different environment really gives you an appreciation of where you live," Sparks said. "Turkey is a nice country, but I'm proud to be an American for sure."