From KSR College’s Tara Bilby…
Kentucky will be inducting 6 new athletes into the Kentucky Hall of Fame in September, one of them being Leroy Edwards. I had written apost on him a while back explaining the impact he had on college basketball and the role he played for Kentucky. He was an influential figure whose skill made the NCAA create the 3 second rule, and led Kentucky to many wins under Rupp. Because of these great accomplishments, for years, many people have been pushing and encouraging the hall of fame to induct him. According to the UK athletics hall of fame website the criteria to be inducted is as follows:
The UK Athletics Hall of Fame will recognize and honor persons whose participation and contributions enriched and strengthened the University’s athletic program. Criteria that will be considered includes athletic and academic accomplishments of the individual while at UK, as well as post-UK accomplishments and character.
Edward’s strength and skills not only enriched and strengthened UK basketball, but college basketball as a whole and definitely fits the above criteria. The hesitation to induct him earlier comes from the way he went against the grain in an era where a lot more emphasis was put on academics. Edwards is said to have not been a serious student and he left college to play professionally with two years of eligibility left, something that was unheard of at that time. If you look at all of his accomplishments, listed on CoachCal.com, it’s crazy to think that it has taken this long for him to be inducted and that it was largely because of what he failed to accomplish academically. Some people are meant to be doctors, some people are meant to be writers, and some people are meant to play basketball.
Edwards was named the 1935 Helms National Player of the Year after averaging 16.3 points per game that season. A consensus first-team All-American, Edwards was also named first-team All-Southeastern Conference after leading the Wildcats to a perfect 11-0 record in league play en route to the SEC championship.
A member of the Helms Basketball Hall of Fame, Edwards left UK in 1935 to play in the National Basketball League, a forerunner of the NBA. He played in the NBL from 1936-42, leading the league in scoring three times and was the all-league center several years.
Leroy Edwards is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. With UK inducting a player they have turned down numerous times before, I can only think that this may be a start of a new wave of inductees. There is always debate on who should be in the hall of fame, whose jerseys need to be retired, and whose need to hang in the rafters of Rupp, and perhaps this is the first step of the hall of fame becoming more open to a new wave of basketball, such as the current era of one and dones. Calipari has been bringing the most talented players in the country to Kentucky and will continue to do so. If you look at the above criteria, Anthony Davis fits it to a tee. He is perhaps the most successful Kentucky player of all time and has accomplished more in one year than the majority of other players do in a lifetime. I could go on and list a number of other players who deserve to be inducted as well, but most of us know who they are. I have complete faith that this is the beginning of a new era of hall of fame inductees; one where within the next decade or two, we will see current players being inducted and recognized for the blood, sweat, and tears they shed for this university before going on and continuing to do what they were born too, play basketball.