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Catching Up With Forgotten Championship Heroes

Getty Images

Getty Images

A few weeks ago, I took the liberty of following up on the not-so-illustrious careers of a few members of the UK Basketball Villains Hall of Fame (which is a very real thing, I promise). That research got me thinking about the other side of the coin: what happened to the UK basketball heroes that slipped through the cracks? 

 Today, we’re answering that question for the group that brought home No. 8.

Let’s be clear about one thing first, though: this post is not a simple list. It is a carefully-curated cache of information, drawn from top-secret research at the highest levels of… well, RealGM, Instagram and Wikipedia. Support local journalism, y’all!

Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

Here’s a fun fact. You want to know just how good Kentucky’s 2012 National Championship team was? Out of the entire 12-man roster, only four players didn’t go on to play professionally—and all of them were walk-ons (shout-out Jarrod Polson, Twany Beckham, Sam Malone and Brian Long). I don’t know what those dudes are up to these days, but hopefully it’s chilling on a beach somewhere with their championship rings. That’s what I’d be doing.

Out of the eight rotation players on this team, seven went on to play the NBA, but only three have managed to stay there: Anthony DavisMichael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller. Those are the lucky guys, and their story is told on primetime TNT, so this isn’t about them. Moving on…

Terrence Jones G League (3 years), China/Philippines (2 years) – Int’l Avg: 27 ppg, 13.3 rpg

Once the #18 overall pick by the Houston Rockets, Jones’ professional path has been long and challenging. However, a string of recent success in Asia has him raring for a return to the States; this past season alone, he dominated the Philippine competition with a monstrous stat-line of 32 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks per contest. He has been active on social media throughout quarantine, and although coronavirus restrictions may prevent him from returning to PBA action this year, it looks like he’s been putting in that work at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy. If you’d like to know more, ask him yourself—he’s on cameo!

Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

Doron Lamb – G League (3 years), Europe (4 years) –  Int’l Avg: 10.7 ppg, 40% 3p

Just as he was in college, Lamb has been a reliable presence throughout his overseas career. His best run probably came with the Greek club G.S. Lavrio in 2019, where he averaged 14 points shooting a 47% clip from deep. He also happened to be teammates for a short time with Jeff Withey, the notoriously persistent Kansas center who he faced off against in the 2012 Final Four (either it’s a small world, or my theory that Withey is actually a set of government clones may just be accurate). He was recently released by Darussafaka in Turkey, but I have a feeling he’ll be back on his feet soon, if for no other reason than his daughter is adorable and how could you not want to support that?

Marquis Teague – G League (6 years), Israel/Korea (2 years) – Int’l Avg: 9.9 ppg, 4.2 apg

The fourth Kentucky starter selected in the 2012 NBA Draft, Teague struggled to adjust to the competitive slant of the league as a 19-year-old stuck behind Derrick Rose in Chicago. “Going to the Bulls, you’re the last man on the roster,” he said in a 2018 interview with The Ringer. “I was so young, coming in, that it messed with me mentally.” Teague has spent most of his career bouncing around in the G-League, but did have a relatively successful stint in Korea last year, putting up 12 points and 3.6 assists per game for Jeonju KCC Egis. He returned to the G-League in 2020 following the birth of his daughter. During quarantine, he’s been spending his time at a family-run training facility in Indianapolis working out with his brother, Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague.


Kyle Wiltjer – G League (1 year), Europe (3 years) – Int’l Avg: 10.7 ppg, 41% 3p

His Kentucky tenure ended abruptly, as he transferred to Gonzaga following the disappointing NIT finish in 2013. But if you ask Wiltjer, it may be the best thing that ever happened to him. I highly recommend watching this interview he did with KSR’s own Bradley McKee in April, where he talked about how his transfer season helped him change his body and mindset in preparation for the professional game (and how UK fans still manage to recognize him in European airports). Now playing in Turkey—where he just signed a contract extension—Wiltjer is building a niche for himself in the international game, following in his father’s footstepsOh yeah, and he spends his free time traveling the world with his wife. I think it’s safe to say he’s alright.

Eloy Vargas – G League (1 year), Europe/S. America (7 years) – Int’l Avg: 9.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Finally, we arrive at Eloy Vargas, former Anthony Davis backup and international man of mystery. Little is known of the one they call Eloy, other than that he came from the Dominican Republic, graduated from UK in 2012 and, apparently, continued to play basketball after that. He has never played in the NBA, but he was drafted by the D-League in 2014 (full disclosure, I did not know this was possible). Vargas’ best season internationally was in 2019, when he averaged 15 points and nine rebounds in Argentina and Venezuela, and he added to his trophy case with a Dominican Championship in 2017. He was last seen in his home country, looking cheery in a hammock with a confused child and a large poodle. Never change, Eloy.

Photo via @evargas30 on Instagram

So which member of the championship squad was your favorite? (And why was it Jarrod Polson?)

Article written by Wynn McDonald

You fellas have nothing to worry about, I'm a professional. @twynstagram