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University of Kentucky Basketball's Marksbury Players First Suite and Healy Family Locker Room

Combine greatness and college basketball and one of the handful of programs at the top of anybody's list is the University of Kentucky Wildcats — the most successful NCAA Division I basketball program in history by measures of all-time wins, total NCAA tournament appearances, NCAA tournament wins, NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, NCAA Elite Eight appearances, and all-time winning percentage.

Kentucky has also racked up eight NCAA championships, second only to UCLA, making the Wildcats a powerful force to be reckoned with in college basketball. Coached by John Calipari, the Kentucky basketball program has carved out a long-standing tradition of success and the NBA looks most heavily to Kentucky for draft picks.

The program's commitment to team building, unity and coach Calipari's players-first philosophy led them in 2017 to pursue a $5-million renovation of their team lounge and locker facilities. The new Marksbury Players First Suite and Healy Family Locker Room feature state-of-the-art amenities that provide players with everything they need to train at the highest level and reach their top potential.

Highlighting the new design are display technologies from Planar, strategically integrated into the new space to enhance team chemistry, strengthen the program's recruiting and demonstrate the university's commitment to its players.

Planar UltraRes Series Interactive Media Wall Illustrates Program Success

Upon entering the new suite area, visitors are greeted with a Planar® UltraRes™ Series interactive media wall composed of three, vertically-mounted 86-inch 4K LCD displays, the middle of which is a Planar UltraRes Touch model. Designed with custom content from Coldwater, OH-based Forty Nine Degrees, a firm specializing in design, build, installation and interactive technology, the interactive media wall is primarily employed as a recruiting tool — both stressing the program's past achievements and inspiring future dreams.

Using the center display for touch screen content navigation, users can view Kentucky's national championships as well as the current roster, including stats, images and video highlights of each player.
Coach Calipari's 'players first' philosophy and the program's roadmap to success are also featured on the interactive media wall, conveyed through the coach's 'succeed and proceed' pyramid, which shows the components that go into winning championships and reaching the NBA draft.

The Planar UltraRes Series media wall also showcases former players who are in the NBA, illustrated vividly through photos, profiles and intermixed footage showing both NBA and Kentucky highlights of each player. "This is a key focus of our recruitment efforts," said Wildcats basketball coaching video coordinator, Tim Asher. "The message we're sending is that this is the place to get to the next level."

Featuring Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160), the Planar UltraRes Series provides superior performance with exceptional 4K clarity and advanced processing — ideal for supporting a high-impact recruiting presentation. The Planar UltraRes Touch combines stunning 4K image clarity with 32 points of multi-touch for a high-level user engagement experience. Planar UltraRes displays feature the Planar® Profile™ Mounting System, which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines and facilitates an ultra-thin profile and easy access to back electronics.

Steve McCain, technology director at Forty Nine Degrees, said the mounting system of the Planar UltraRes Series provided the needed flexibility for a seamless integration. "In the state of Kentucky, regulations require access to an outlet to be able to unplug power as needed, and the Planar Profile Mounting System is really the only ADA-compliant solution that allows us to do that," McCain said. "Moreover, it's clear with the Planar UltraRes Series displays that corners have not been cut in the manufacturing. The product is built like a tank but presents like a Maserati."

Clarity Matrix Video Wall Creates Focal Point for Camaraderie

One of the key intentions of the remodel was to create an environment for the players to relax, be themselves and naturally interact. The suite's entertainment area was designed specifically to meet this purpose and to foster a sense of team camaraderie that could translate to winning on the court.

The crux of this strategy is a 13-foot-long, 8-foot-high Clarity® Matrix® LCD Video Wall System (MX46HDX-L-ERO) in a 4x4 configuration. Installed by AV designer and integrator Alpha Video, the Clarity Matrix provides outstanding tiled visual performance, perfectly aligned panels and the industry's narrowest bezels, enabling a nearly seamless video wall installation to match the interior aesthetic of the Players First Suite. The unique, off-board architecture of the Clarity Matrix transfers heat, complexity and potential points-of-failure from the video wall to a remote rack-mounted system, providing installation flexibility and eliminating the need to provide power locally.

"The entertainment area and the video wall were built just for our players," said Asher. "They can come in and watch ESPN or an NBA game and the clarity is just incredible. We also have the option to split the video wall into quads if there are four different games at the same time."

Players are also free to hook their Xboxes or PlayStations into the video wall via an HDMI connection. "That's what they love to do and believe me when I say it gets competitive," Asher said. "Obviously, our mission here is to get them to come together as a team as fast as possible, and the video wall provides a great opportunity for the players to spend time with one another and bond."

DeWayne Peevy, University of Kentucky deputy director of athletics, said the entertainment area and Clarity Matrix video wall gives the players a space to congregate. "As soon as we opened that area around the beginning of January, the players started spending a lot of time there and that's when we really started to come together as a team," Peevy said. "I think it had a lot to do with how our season turned around last year."

Planar CarbonLight LED Displays Create Locker Room 'Wow Factor'

In the Wildcat's locker room, a Planar CarbonLight™ CLA Series video wall with a 1.5mm pixel pitch (CLA1.5) was custom designed into a continuous LED ribbon board that is installed above the team lockers — a 360-degree seamless display that matches the locker room's circular design. Forty Nine Degrees designed the video wall with custom software and configuration that integrates the screens with each locker.

The Planar CarbonLight CLA Series is a line of LED video wall displays that feature Planar PrecisionArc™ alignment technology, enabling creatively curved video wall arrays like the locker room installation. Engineered with a carbon fiber structure, the Planar CarbonLight CLA Series incorporates a thin, lightweight, high-strength carbon fiber casing in a modular design to fit a wide range of simple or complex applications.

"Walking into the locker room, the curved video board immediately projects a 'wow factor'," said Peevy. "It's a unique technology to feature in that space and the flexibility of it allows us to display a range of dynamic content. We can show images, videos or messages congratulating somebody for earning player of the week, or thanking a donor who may be visiting. It's also a technology that we can grow with."

The Planar CarbonLight CLA Series video wall incorporates split displays so that each player is highlighted above his locker, with a dedicated profile that shows stats, image slides and videos. "The idea is to show that each player belongs," said Asher. "We want them to feel like they are important to the program, but that the program is bigger than all of us."