BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A year ago, they were sitting in the stands, enjoying the show.
Freshman Lloyd Price runs the floor during warmups.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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Lloyd Price knew then that he wanted to play basketball for Xavier. Kevin Frey, another high school player taking his official recruiting visit the weekend of Midnight Madness, also pictured himself wearing blue and white.
Their vision became reality Friday night.
The two freshmen walked out to the Schmidt Fieldhouse court, heard the band, saw the dance team and cheerleaders and 2,050 fans packing the stands. Their eyes got big.
"Wow," Frey said. "It's just crazy. Coming from high school, this is unbelievable. It's undescribable."
Said Price: "When I walked out there, it was like something hit me. I like shook, just seeing all the people. And they're all here for us."
When Skip Prosser became Xavier's head coach in 1994-95, the students came to him and requested a Midnight Madness kickoff to college basketball practice.
Since then, the event continues to grow in excitement. This year, fewer tickets were handed out to prevent the overcrowding that accompanied last year's festivities.
The stands were full before 11 p.m. Friday. There were students, alumni, family and friends of players and several former Musketeers. There were tumblers, dogs catching frisbees and student contests. The decibel level was high all the way through the highlights video that preceded the men's and women's teams taking the court just after midnight.
Brief scrimmages followed.
"It's a great crescendo throughout the week," Prosser said. "Just more and more people are talking about it, and the buzz gets louder."
Very early this morning, fans got their first look at 6-foot-10 Obi Harris, the athletic shot blocker Xavier has been missing, 6-8 Desmond Walker, the top candidate to start at power forward, as well as Frey, a 3-point shooting power forward, and Price, the high-flying highly touted newcomer. All four could play key roles this season.
Price, Frey and DeAngelo McDaniel made their official visits to Xavier together last year. Price orally committed that Monday, one day after returning from XU, and Frey committed Wednesday. McDaniel ended up going to Tulsa.
Frey and Price couldn't get last year out of their minds, but prefered this year's Madness.
"It seems better because I'm here with my uniform on and ready to go," Price said.
"I'm actually a part of it," Frey said.