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A brief history of Mr. Basketball at Kentucky


There have been 57 Kentucky Mr. Basketball awards, going back to 1956 when “King” Kelly Coleman of Wayland High School won the very first. Adolph Rupp wanted him badly. He was the greatest high school star to come from the Bluegrass s state ever. Rupp didn’t get him, and Coleman went on to play ball at Kentucky Wesleyan where he became a Panthers legend. He was drafted by the New York Knicks four years later.

Rupp wouldn’t miss the next one. He got Mr. Basketball No. 2 in 1957. A guy named Billy Ray Lickert from Lafayette High School in Lexington. He would play for the Wildcats four years, become a 1,000-point scorer, and get drafted by the newly-relocated Los Angeles Lakers in 1961, just a year removed from the move out of Minneapolis.

After Lickert, there have been 15 other Mr. Basketball’s from the state who have played for the Big Blue: Fan-favorite names, like Jack Givens, Dirk Minniefield, Rex Chapman, John Pelphrey, and Richie Farmer.

Dominique Hawkins is the 17th Kentucky Mr. Basketball to commit to the State’s University. Louisville is next in line with eight; the most recent commit coming in 1993 when Male High School star Jason Osborne committed to Denny Crum and the Cardinals.

Correction: Elisha Justice committed to Rick Pitino and the Cardinals in 2010 after being named Kentucky Mr. Basketball. He transferred to Pikeville after two seasons for Louisville.

Since that time, Kentucky has received five Mr. Basketball’s, including this season with Hawkins. In 2001 Bowling Green standout Josh Carrier committed to Tubby Smith where he would play for four years.

In 2002 Smith hauled in another, a three-star point guard from Glasgow who also stuck around for four years in Lexington.

Then in 2008 a guy named Billy Gillispie received a commitment which would be a vital piece for a national championship team. Little did he know, he wouldn’t even sniff the title game with this blue-chip — but his successor surely thanks him for his hard work on the recruiting trail. A four-star small forward from Mason County, Darius Miller, would become an all-time favorite at Kentucky en route to earning the Big Blue its eighth national championship.

Jon Hood came a year later in 2009. A stud at Madisonville High School, Hood committed to Gillispie as a four-star shooting guard and a top-40 prospect nationally. He and Miller made Kentucky basketball Kentucky basketball. Hood is entering his senior season and will play a veteran leadership role as one of two seniors on the squad next season.

Hawkins committed to the Cats Wednesday and already parallels to Miller are being made. The homegrown kid, who grew up a Kentucky fan, led his team to a Sweet Sixteen title and was named MVP in the postseason. Hawkins has the potential to make a Miller-like impact in his UK career too. He is poised to be a long-term development player with a huge upside. Give Hawkins a couple of years to develop as a three- or four-year guard and you can bet his name won’t be forgotten by Big Blue Nation.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

38 Comments for A brief history of Mr. Basketball at Kentucky

  1. EBrown21
    2:13 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Man I miss Darius

  2. zzbottom
    2:13 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t forget power houses like: Chris Harrison or Current all-star, Jon ‘Playing Time’ Hood.

  3. Alver Hanso
    2:15 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Former Card Elisha Justice was named Mr. Kentucky over Jarrod Polson in 2010 making him the most recent to commit to the Cards. Consider yourself fact checked.

  4. KSRgraduateschool
    2:16 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    What Stuart apparently doesn’t want us to know is, it was Brandon “human victory cigar” Stockton.

  5. Jon Hood
    2:17 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I like Carrots….

  6. Frew Drunklin
    2:19 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Is this kid any relation to Cliff Hawkins?

  7. STEVE!
    2:22 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    2 – What year was Chris Harrison Mr. Basketball?

  8. Rajon4rondo
    2:23 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    You should learn the difference between predecessor and successor.

  9. Chuck
    2:29 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Bulldog with a football mentality. This is another chance for Cal to show his development skills.

  10. CaptObvious
    2:30 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Very poorly written article Stuart. KSR is slipping.

  11. STEVE!
    2:34 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    4 – Brandon Stockton’s other claim to fame was that Tubby Smith repeatedly started him over Rajon Rondo.

  12. Justin
    2:38 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I’m pretty sure you meant to say sucessor… why would Tubby thank Gilispie for his hard work on the recruiting trail?

  13. Yesterdays
    2:52 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    He should thank Gillespie for not letting Darius leave to go to Illinois. Darius wasnt even considering UK under Tubby Ball. If we’d have missed on Darius, chalk up another category of “I blame Tubby.”

  14. rixter
    2:53 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Aver, facts never get in the way of a good KSR story!

  15. Like Bledsoe??????
    2:54 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Like I’ve said all day Hawkins is closer to Stockton than any of the others.

  16. Steely Dan
    2:56 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    8 – True story

  17. Like Bledsoe??????
    2:58 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t really care who got Miller! What I know is we don’t have #8 with out him! Watched him in hgh school and I’ve never seen a kid like him who would just take over when he wanted then disappear untill he decided to take over again! If any thing he was to good of a team mate!

  18. Smiley Pete
    2:59 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Predecessor refers to the person who preceded you. You’re looking for successor (the person who succeeds you. i.e. comes after you). Also, ul landed Elisha Justice, who was Mr. Kentucky in 2010.

  19. catsfrankfort
    3:01 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Ha, did you just forget to write that Brandon Stockton was the 2002 player from Glasgow?? And obviously you mean ‘successor’ rather than ‘predeccesor’. And Elisha Justice was indeed the Mr. Basketball who most recently commited to the Cards. I mean, everyone is human and there are grammatical errors and typos on KSR (as well as other sites) from time to time, but come on, these are just wrong or misleading statements! Agreed that Hawkins could blossom into a steady contributor down the road though.

  20. rixter
    3:04 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    This really does read like a 6th grader’s book report.

  21. bung
    3:11 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    nice article…I always like stories that go back into Kentucky’s rich history…

  22. Elisha Justice
    3:13 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I thought I won Mr. Basketball and committed to the Cards a couple years ago..

  23. Jpo
    3:17 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Lets have one more comment about Elisha justice or the use of predecessor there’s not enough…

  24. Chris Lofton
    3:21 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I was probably one of the biggest Mr. Basketball awardees that UK missed out on – thanks Tubby. The only solace Cats fans can take in letting me slip away to the Vols is that they paid us back when UK got Randall Cobb out of UT’s back yard.

  25. HicksPickSix
    3:37 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    23 – You don’t think Stuart Hammer’s mediocre writing is a big deal? That makes sense, especially given the fact that you don’t know the difference between “lets” and “let’s.”

  26. HeHateMe
    3:38 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Why wouldn’t he put Brandon Stockton’s name in the article? Gotta be honest, love KSR but this article sucked.

  27. Jpo
    3:44 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    25. Lol ur so anal

  28. MrSleeCat
    3:58 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Indeed, these writers do SUCK! Between Corey telling us why we should root for Louisville to this “6th grade book report”, the writing on this site has gotten very average. And it’s understandable, Matt Jones probably has bigger fish to fry, so he’s not tending to house. But if you don’t think it has gone downhill, go back (if that’s even possible) and read some of the stories on here 5 or 6 years ago. Weird stuff about OH Napier. Stories by Tucker Maxx. While not always relevant to UK, they kept you entertained between seasons. But this crap makes me pine for the days when Marc Maggard wrote for this site (for 30 seconds, I might add)… Thank God he never made this a paid-site.

  29. RIP Mel Turpin
    3:58 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Why is nobody talking about the bigger picture regarding Ky Mr. Basketball players? Doesn’t it seem odd and disappointing that UK only gets about 1/3 of them? Are most not good enough to play at UK? Or do we not value homegrown highly enough?

    Lofton is one example of a Mr. Basketball winner that could have made a big contribution. Are there others we ignored and let get away?

    What about other states like Indiana and North Carolina? Are their Mr. Basketball winners more coveted by their in-state teams?

  30. ky
    4:15 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    I hope hes like cliff, he was tough as nails

  31. JWR
    4:54 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    King Kelly did go to Kentucky at first, but ran into trouble before he layed his first game and left.

    5:03 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    26. I know copying someone else is the sincerest form of flattery, but…WTF!!!! Come up with your own thang…

  33. JWR
    5:04 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    …played his first game…

  34. king rex
    5:31 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    What about Rex Chapman???

  35. Diehardcatfan
    8:37 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

  36. Orlando Antigua
    8:53 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    Come on down, kid. Loved you from the beginning.

  37. wow
    9:46 pm April 10, 2013 Permalink

    What a poorly written article! This is embarrassing. KSR is no longer a must-visit for UK fans.

  38. kwd101
    2:55 am April 11, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll be happy if he turns into another Anthony Epps.