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Kentucky players who transferred from UK

wiltjer elite eight

By now we all know of the unexpected announcement of Kyle Wiltjer’s intent to transfer. His time in the Bluegrass was short-lived by all expectations of his being a four-year player. However, no one can blame him for seeking new and greater opportunities elsewhere. He has exceptional skill, but unfortunately due to the influx of talent, would likely have been buried behind the enormous depth of this year’s roster.

So what might happen to Wiltjer if he does decide to leave? Hopefully he betters his game and makes the league. He wouldn’t be the first player who chose to leave Kentucky for a new adventure, and he won’t be the last. Who are those other players? What would become of some other notable names that transferred? How many would go on to make the NBA?

In total, 95 players have left the program over the last 101 years; Wiltjer would be the 96th if he does choose to make the move. Rather than list off every player, allow me to list of some of the notable transfers, including the 14 who made it to the NBA.


1912 — Brandy Brandstetner (Occidental College)
Brandstetner was the first ever UK basketball player to leave the program, before Kentucky was ever “Kentucky” and the Wildcats moniker had ever been established. He played during a time where the faculty athletic senate had actually voted to abolish the men’s basketball team due to a poor record in its first five years.

1942 — Adrian Back (Navy)
1943 — Bill Hamm (New Mexico State A&M)
1943 — Clyde Parker (Louisville)
1944 — Truett DeMoisey (Ohio State)
1944 — Glen Parker (Louisville)
1944 — Don Whitehead (Bowling Green)
This group of players – along with many others – had to answer the call into the military just at the height of World War II. It is likely after serving, their spot on the roster at Kentucky was filled, or they no longer had the desire to play ball anymore. For whatever reason, these players left the program and went their separate ways. Salute.

1946 — Deward Compton (Louisville)
This 6’5 center from Murfreesboro, Tenn. left Lexington for Louisville after playing in just ten games for the Wildcats in his first two seasons. He was drafted in 1948 by the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the first player to make the NBA after transferring out of Kentucky.

1947 — Bob Brannum (Michigan State)
A 1943 consensus All-American, All-SEC First Team member, and All-SEC Tournament player, Brannum was a key player for Adolph Rupp before his career shifted to MSU. He debuted for the Sheboygan Redskins in 1949 before being sold to the Boston Celtics where he played for four seasons.

1947 — Malcolm McMullen (Xavier)
McMullen played at Kentucky for two seasons, averaging 1.1 points in 21 games. He transferred to Xavier, near his hometown of Hamilton, Ohio. He was drafted in 1949 by the Indianapolis Olympians where he played for two seasons.

1949 — Joe Hall (Sewanee)
A true Kentucky legend, but not because of his playing days… The future Kentucky head coach played only three games as a Wildcat, never cracking the scoring column. He would finish his playing career at Sewanee but as a coach, would take over for Rupp in 1972. He coached for 13 successful seasons, winning a title in 1978.

1952 — Cliff Dwyer (Chipola Junior College)
A native of Cincinnati, Dwyer appeared in just one game for Kentucky before transferring to Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. He would eventually wind up at North Carolina State and be drafted in 1955 by the Syracuse Nationals.

1952 — Dan Swartz (Morehead)
Straight out of Bath County, Kentucky, Swartz played in seven games as a Wildcat. He transferred to Morehead State and was drafted in the 4th round by the Boston Celtics in 1956.

1969 — Greg Starrick (Southern Illinois)
Also a star in baseball, Starrick was a multi-sport athlete in the Bluegrass before he ended his basketball career at Kentucky with 37 total points in seven games. He transferred to Southern Illinois, near his home town of Marion, Ill. He was drafted in 1972 in the 9th round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

1979 — Chuck Aleksinas (Connecticut)
The 6’10 Aleksinas appeared in 41 games in two seasons at Kentucky, notching 248 career points, and shooting an impressive 50 percent from the field. He would transfer back to his home state at the University of Connecticut to finish his career, and would go on to be selected in the 1982 NBA Draft in the 4th round by the Chicago Bulls.

1980 — Dwight Anderson (Southern California)
“The Blur” as he was called, came to Kentucky as a McDonalds All-American, a Scholastic Coach All-American, and a Parade All-American. He played two seasons at Kentucky, scoring 505 points in 40 games, but he would leave the Bluegrass halfway through his Sophomore year for USC. He was drafted in 1982 by the Washington Bullets in the 2nd round with the 41st overall pick.

1983 — Todd May (Wake Forest)
Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky in 1982, May played in just four games as a Wildcat before moving on to Wake Forest during his freshman season. He was drafted in the 1987 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs in the 4th round.

1987 — Irving Thomas (Florida State)
Thomas came to Kentucky out of Miami, Fla. As a McDonalds All-American, among other prep awards. He played for two seasons in Lexington before transferring to Florida State to finish his collegiate career. He made his professional debut in 1990 for the Los Angeles Lakers, but only played one season in the NBA.

1989 — LeRon Ellis (Syracuse)
A Gatorade Player of the Year in California and a Parade All-American, Elis played for two seasons at Kentucky, earning Second Team All-SEC his Sophomore year. He finished his college eligibility at Syracuse and was drafted in the 1st round of the 1991 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, going 22nd overall.

1989 — Chris Mills (Arizona)
Mr. Basketball in the state of California in 1987 and 1988, Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonalds All-American, USA Today All-American, Parade All-American, Mills came to Kentucky as a true elite West Coast baller. He would stay only one year, heading back out west for Arizona. He would be drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1993 with the 22nd overall pick.

1995 — Rodrick Rhodes (Southern California)
An All-SEC Freshman team member and Third Team All-SEC in 1993, and Second Team All-SEC in 1994, Rhodes rode a wave of success from high school in New Jersey to Kentucky He would play three seasons for the Wildcats, amassing 1,209 points in 99 games before transferring to USC in 1995. He would go on to be drafted in 1997 in the 1st round, 24th overall, by the Houston Rockets.

2000 — Michael Bradley (Villanova)
Bradley was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Massachusetts in 1997 before coming to Kentucky, where he played for two seasons. He appeared in 69 total games, chalking up 442 points. He transferred to Villanova, about 270 miles from his hometown of Worcester, Mass. From there he would be drafted in the 1st round with the 17th pick by the Toronto Raptors.


Following Bradley’s leave have been 25 other former Wildcats, including Marvin Stone, Shagari Alleyne, Derrick Jasper, Alex Legion, Kevin Galloway, Matthew Pilgrim, Darnell Dodson, and most recently Ryan Harrow.

This post is not designed to discourage Wiltjer from moving on to greener pastures. This list of former Cats demonstrates that role players and star players alike have come to Kentucky, realized it’s not the place for them, and still succeeded elsewhere. Hopefully Wiltjer can find what he is looking for at a new school, and be added here once finds a new home and makes his way into the NBA.

[Thanks to Big Blue History for making this post possible]

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

43 Comments for Kentucky players who transferred from UK

  1. Aja
    11:20 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Missed one. David Miller from Carroll County transferred to Marshall.

  2. Cats
    11:21 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Shawn Kemp?

  3. Matt
    11:26 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    how about Ryan Harrow?

  4. Mojor
    11:27 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Joe B. was a transfer? Wow.

    Kyle Wiltjer is going to be coaching the Cats in 2032!

  5. JC
    11:28 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Stacey Poole

  6. hell cat
    11:30 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Read carefully, people. He’s not listing every single one.

  7. Aja
    11:36 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    It says: “Kentucky players who transferred from UK.”

    It does not say “some of the players who transferred from UK.”

  8. Nate Night
    11:47 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    What about me and R. Sims?

  9. Drew Franklin
    11:49 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    7. — Can you read? “Rather than list off every player, allow me to list of some of the notable transfers”

  10. literacy
    11:51 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Everybody, he very clearly says in the post that he is only going to list some of the “notable transfers” Nowhere does he ever say this is ALL the transfers.

  11. Revelo Wrangler
    11:51 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Tim Stephens is another one. Late 70’s from McCreary Co.

  12. literacy
    11:54 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Also, he also clearly says in the post that there have been 95 total transfers. It is plainly obvious that he did not list all 95 of them.

  13. gray
    11:54 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    You forgot
    1951 Lindle Castle (Morehead)

  14. TN Cat
    11:58 am June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Everybody gets so pissy during the off-season.

  15. SaratogaCatsFan
    12:02 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Missed another. Jody Thompson left for Pikeville

  16. asdf
    12:02 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    14. No wonder. It’s the off-season! After the Final Four, there are four months of nothing important happening, until finally life begins again with the first football game. That would make anybody pissy.

  17. Rockfield, KY
    12:03 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Oliver Simmons and Jason Lathrem

  18. What?
    12:03 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    In Drew’s post around 11:00 last night, he says Wiltjer was unhappy last season. Why? Hopefully he was just pissed at how the season ended, but it almost sounds like he was disgruntled all year. With Wiltjers extreme defensive shortcomings, he played probably more than he deserved, especially because his shots quit falling. If he was unhappy with the NIT finish to the season, he should have the guts to come back for vindication. If he was unhappy with his PT, well look in the mirror big boy. I wish him well, but not sorry he is leaving. Soft.

  19. Rockfield, KY
    12:04 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Ryan Hogan

  20. Rockfield, KY
    12:05 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Most of the Gillispie team

  21. Boogie
    12:08 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I think he finally realized that a 6’10 3 point specialist is nothing but a situational player. After he made no effort to get stronger, he became a waste of a scholarship.

  22. Let'sBeatThisDeadHorse
    12:08 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Hey! I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but you missed some of the transfers.

  23. Muhlenberg Darryl
    12:09 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Recruit Kentucky players…..they stay and play the “kentucky way”……….too much out of state players

  24. TN Cat
    12:10 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    You forgot to include Thomas Beisner. He was a transfer.

  25. theWilkman
    12:11 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Still seems like the wrong decision to me. Sure he won’t play much next year, but he’d get another ring and the opportunity to be THE leader on the 2014-15 squad. If he didn’t want to waste his year next year, he could redshirt (as mentioned by many others) and do the same, with another potential year after that. Really seems like a short term fix to me. Transfer and get some PT, yes, but really limit yourself with regards to your NBA career (if there is one). Stay, get stronger and better, win at least another championship, and greatly increase your chances to be successful at the next level.

  26. DH
    12:17 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    23) There are some really dumb comments on this thread, but I think yours takes the cake.

  27. Never for get
    12:17 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Eric Manuel.
    Everybody from the scandle of the late 80s was allowed to bounce back, but this poor kid took the fall for everyone in the program. He is the saddest story, and most wronged player in the history of the basketball program. UK ruined his life, and we shouldn’t forget him when we discuss transfers.

  28. wkcatsfan
    12:19 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    I think Todd May actually transferred from Wake Forest to Pikeville College after leaving Kentucky. He was a big-time scorer at Pikeville, if memory serves.

  29. Adam
    12:23 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Marvin Stone seems pretty significant to me. He transferred to Louisville and got Rick his first win over the Cats at Louisville.

  30. Napolean Dynamite
    12:33 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t forget Mark ‘the flurry’ Coury

  31. Muhlenberg Darryl
    12:35 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    LOL 2012 man….Darius Miller……senior leadership, kentucky pride……UofKansas would be winners if darius wasnt there….more kentucky players means more like darius

  32. Duh
    12:44 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    #31 assuming you are not trolling or baiting, and are just ignorant….out of the state of KY, a player like Miller comes along about once every 10 years. For every player like Miller you name, I can name 10 Josh Carriers, Brandon Stocktons, Jody Thompsons, and even Richie Farmers. In short, KY kids lucky enough to receive a scholarship at UK that had no business being on the team. So sure, save a couple spots for the Jon Hoods, Polsons to appease idiots like you, and give the other 11 schollies to UK level elite players from outside the state that will win more than 5 games a year.

  33. flash
    12:46 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Wayne Chapman, Rex’s dad, transferred to Western ane was an All-American and played in the ABA.

  34. aka
    12:55 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    UMMMMMM…. Mark Curry….

  35. Kentucky Effect
    1:12 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Awesome how Ryan Harrow was completely shunned as soon as he transferred. Don’t think it was even reported by KSR or others, which is justified.

  36. DH
    1:28 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    31) See 32. Also, it’s Kansas University, hence KU… KU also would have won if we didn’t have Anthony Davis. Or MKG. Or Terrence Jones. Or Doron Lamb. Or Marquis Teague, etc etc etc…

  37. chris
    1:42 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Carlos Toomer, Jody Thompson, Adam Chiles, Todd Tackett?

  38. rockatao
    3:24 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Sorry, 36 it is officially the University of Kansas …. they only use the logo KU to avoid confusion with Kentucky.

  39. Drew
    5:23 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t forget the great Gunther Behnke!

    /just me?

  40. Wayne Chapman
    11:10 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    Like 33 said, I transferred from UK to WKU and had a notable collegiate and pro career to say the least. The they put me out to stud and I sired some guy who played for you in the 80s.

  41. blue to the bone
    11:35 pm June 26, 2013 Permalink

    What’s missing in the article and all the comments is the fact that some players transferred by choice (like Wiltjer) vs. those that had to leave for a variety of reasons (NCAA probation, violation of team rules, “gotta leave because you’re not good enough to play here”, even “you’re good enough but you mess-up our team chemistry”, etc). But this article implies that everyone who transfers CHOSE to transfer and that is FAR from true.

  42. David Waits
    2:16 am June 27, 2013 Permalink

    Bob Tallent transferred to Geo. Washington, I believe it was, in early-mid ’60’s. Played high school ball at Maytown (KY)

  43. JPS
    7:23 am June 29, 2013 Permalink

    Just a comment about Brandy Brandstetner. He played for UK’s varsity in 1911-12 as a freshman.

    It turned out his family moved to Los Angeles CA so he left with them and enrolled at nearby Occidental California where he went on to become a well-known and highly regarded three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track).

    The only problem is, he failed to tell anyone that he had already played a year of football and basketball at UK, so he ended up playing 4 years at Occidental. (i.e. he played one more year than he had eligibility for)

    During that era, this was not that unusual.

    BTW, Brandstetner died of influenza in 1919 while in the military.