Well the Greatest UK Player Tournament Ever is back from its hiatus with results of its closest matchup yet to date. If you remember, the last matchup you were asked to vote on was in the now famous Antoine Walker vs Chuck Hayes event. And well, it was a close and controversial finish. In a result I found surprising, Antoine Walker took out Chuck Hayes 3-2 to advance to the next round. AS you can see, the fans ultimately put Antoine over the top, although he only won the fan vote by 8 votes.
Matt Jones: Antoine Walker
Rob Gidel: Chuck Hayes
Larry Vaught: Chuck Hayes
Gregg Doyel: Antoine Walker
Fan Vote: Antoine Walker
So with that, we move to the next round and the dreaded 2-15 matchup, with Cotton Nash vs Nazr Mohammed:
Part of the reason we do this tournament is so that fans of the younger generation can learn about guys like Cotton Nash. Simply put, there is likely no UK player who won more accolades during his time at Kentucky than Mr. Nash. Cotton came to UK in 1960 from Louisiana and after sitting out his Freshman year, proceeded to take the SEC by storm. Cotton was 2nd team All American his Sophomore year, 2nd team All American his Junior year and Consensus 1st team All American his Senior year. His talent was visible in every game played at Kentucky and he finished his career with one of the more remarkable statistics that I have ever seen. In the course of Cotton’s career, spanning a total of 78 games, he scored in double digits in all but 5 of those games. Think about that for a second……from the time he walked on the court for the first time until he left Kentucky, only five times did he walk off with less than 10 points. Even more astounding, out of those 78 games, he scored over 20 points in a game, 52 times. He was unstoppable all the way around and a poster boy for Kentucky basketball when the sports was just beginning to take hold nationally. He was the first SI UK coverboy and he finished his career 9th all time in scoring and 5th all time in rebounds. He could do it all and to many is the ultimate embodiment of Kentucky basketball in that generation. Hard to find many better than Cotton Nash.
If you looked throughout UK basketball history, you will be hard-pressed to find a person who improved more in his career than the man they call Nazr. Arriving on UK’s campus at the beginning of the the greatest team in NCAA history’s magical season, Nazr find himself overweight and playing on (of all things) the JV team. However over the course of the next three years, Nazr outworked everyone, slimmed down and became a force to be reckoned with inside. He played three seasons and saw his college team go to the NCAA finals all three years….a run unmatched in UK history. Simply put, Nazr was a winner on the highest stage and at levels unprecedented in the Cats lore. He was the key cog in the national championship run of 1998, providing the consistent scoring and shot blocking that led him to later be a first round NBA Draft pick. Nazr was First Team All-SEC that last season and became one of the most feared big men in all of America. Those who saw him his Freshman year wondered how Nazr ended up at UK…..but he left as one of the greatest winners in its history.
So there you go…..Cotton and Nazr. Place your selection and give your best Cotton and Nazr moments in the comments section. The Adolph Rupp 1st Round Bracket is complete and we will now move on tomorrow to the next set of contenders……