Hopefully you saw my post yesterday arguing for Tony Delk and against Wayne Turner having their jersey’s retired at Rupp Arena. If not, the link is below. Each day this week, I will argue for 1 player and against 1 player that are often argued for jersey retirement. Here is the schedule for the week:
YESTERDAY: Tony Delk (IN) and Wayne Turner (OUT)
WEDNESDAY: Keith Bogans and Chuck Hayes
THURSDAY: Rajon Rondo and Patrick Patterson
FRIDAY: John Wall and Anthony Davis
Now, before we get into today’s 2 players, I feel like I should clarify what I consider important to getting your jersey retired. My criteria are fairly simple:
-I think individual stats and accolades are significantly more important than team success. It doesn’t mean that winning a title doesn’t help some, but if you were an average player on a title team, I don’t think it boosts you into legend status. I call this the Cameron Mills argument.
-A player’s “likeability” has no sway for me. Rajon Rondo was not well-liked while at UK, but belongs up there more than Ramel Bradley does.
-NBA success has NO EFFECT whatsoever. If had an effect, then we would have to also take out the NBA busts. I don’t think Ron Mercer should be damaged by what he did after UK.
With that said, let’s look at the 2 players for today: TAYSHAUN PRINCE AND REX CHAPMAN
LET HIM IN (Tayshaun Prince)
The Individual Numbers
Points: 1,775 (8th all-time)
Blocks: 149 (9th all-time)
Rebounds: 759 (19th all-time)
Assists: 255 (30th all-time)
Steals: 111 (28th all-time)
The Team Numbers
SEC Titles: 2 (2000 and 2001)
SEC Tournament Titles: 2 (1999 and 2001)
1st team All-SEC: 2 (2001 and 2002)
SEC Player of the Year: 1 (2001)
2nd team All-American: 1 (2001)
3rd team All-American: 1 (2002)
SEC Tournament MVP: 1 (2001)
Much like Delk, I doubt I have to convince many people that Prince belongs there. The only detractors would argue Prince never made the Final Four, and only made 1 Elite Eight as a freshman. But, his individual career was SO good that there is no way you can keep him out. Consider this, Prince is the only player in UK history to be Top 30 in all 5 major statistical categories. You could argue that Prince was the most all-around player in UK history. Plus, he had the iconic game against North Carolina. Point is, it is just a matter of time for Prince.
KEEP HIM OUT (Rex Chapman)
The Individual Numbers
Points: 1,073 (50th all-time)
Assists: 220 (37th all-time)
Steals: 89 (38th all-time)
The Team Numbers
SEC Tournament Titles: 1 (1988, vacated by NCAA)
1st team All-SEC: 2 (1987 and 1988)
3rd team All-American: 1 (1988)
SEC Tournament MVP: 1 (1988)
People who argue Rex Chapman should be in the rafters do so with a cult hero mentality. A Kentucky-grown boy who stepped on campus and immediately became the best player on the team. And his freshman season, at the time, was probably the best in UK history. But consider that 8 UK players have scored more in their freshman seasons since Chapman left. Chapman played just as much in his freshman season as Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, but those guys averaged as many or more points than Chapman. Those guys are not going in the rafters. I don’t say that to degrade Chapman’s freshman year, just to put it in perspective.
But I don’t even care too much about that. The reason I keep Chapman out of the rafters is because he career doesn’t deserve it. If Chapman had stayed 4 years, he would have been a SLAM DUNK for retirement. He was on pace to be a 2,000 point scorer, and potentially challenge Issel’s scoring record. BUT HE DIDN’T STAY. He left after 2 years. We can’t project what Chapman would have done with his junior and senior years and include that in his career here. He played 2 great years. But those 2 great years don’t compare to Prince’s 4 or Bogans’ 4 or Patrick Patterson’s 3. If you look at Chapman from a 2-year perspective, his career just doesn’t deserve that honor.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think 1 or 2 year players don’t deserve the honor. As you will see on Friday, I think either Anthony Davis or John Wall belong in the rafters. This is where team success comes into play for me. Chapman’s resume would have been greatly improved had 1 of his 2 teams had NCAA success. He lost in the 1st round his freshman season, and the Sweet 16 his sophomore year. That’s not legendary. When you look at Chapman’s career objectively, taking only the numbers into consideration, I wouldn’t include him in the rafters. If only he had stayed 4 years.