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.