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Cats keeping Madness dancing plans under wraps

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John Wall helped start the start the trend of dancing at Big Blue Madness in 2009. (UK Athletics) John Wall's namesake move helped start the start the trend of dancing at Big Blue Madness in 2009. (UK Athletics)
Big Blue Madness organizers go to great lengths to make sure plans for Kentucky's first open men's and women's basketball practice stay quiet, and rightfully so.

Fans -- though tickets are free -- spend days camped out for tickets to the event and surprise is part of the fun.

In 2013, with Madness anticipation at an all-time high, players are following suit when it comes to the dance moves they'll break out when introduced to the capacity crowd.

"We've all talked about what we want to do and I have everything picked out but it's a surprise," freshman guard Dominique Hawkins said.

Hawkins has had 18 years to think about his big moment. The Richmond, Ky., native grew up hoping he would get a chance to walk -- and dance -- across the Madness stage. On Friday night, he'll get it.

"I know it's going to be wild, the place will be packed and the fans will be going crazy," Hawkins said. "Growing up I wanted to be that person that everybody was screaming about when they come out in Rupp Arena. Now I'm actually going to get to do it. It's insane. I can't wait."

Three years ago, fellow Bluegrass native Jarrod Polson was in Hawkins' shoes as a first timer. Now a senior, Polson will be participating in Madness for the fourth time, but it's far from old hat.

The fan favorite said on Tuesday his "wheels are turning" about his dance and has an idea what he'll do, but he's not telling either.

"That'll ruin the fun," Polson said.

Not everyone has finalized their dancing plans yet, however.

"I'm not really a dancer, so I don't know what I'm going to do to be honest," Andrew Harrison said. "But I'm just looking forward to it. A little nervous, but I'm excited at the same time."

Nervousness is natural for UK's newcomers given the magnitude of Madness. Members of UK's top-ranked recruiting class are just two weeks removed from seeing the anticipation for Madness firsthand as fans lined up for tickets in record numbers. Now that they'll be directly involved for the first time, they're eager to see what's in store even though many were on campus for visits during the 2012 event.

"I asked some of the other players," forward Julius Randle said. "I was like, 'Do we practice or do we go out there a couple days before and see what we're going to do?' They're like, 'No, it's pretty much a surprise for you too.' I don't know what to expect. I've already seen how crazy these people are when they camped out and stuff, so I don't know what to expect."

One thing Randle can expect is another show-stopping dance by Matthew Mitchell after the women's head coach's idea for a "The Lion King"-inspired Madness introduction was nixed by his wife, Jenna, who gave birth to the couple's second daughter last week.

"This year, I was thinking, maybe we would try to have a live birth out there on the main floor -- all right -- and offer up the child to the Big Blue Nation," Mitchell joked. "I think that would be an outstanding way to usher in the season."

Instead, Mitchell will try to once again one-up his own moves. Over the last three seasons, Mitchell has done The Dougie and channeled both MC Hammer and Michael Jackson.

"You're stuck with me dancing again this year," Mitchell said.

This year's dance, of course, remains a secret.

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