The 2011 class for the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame has been announced, and it is headlined by Kentucky great ‘King’ Rex Chapman. He will join six others, including 1972 ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP Artis Gilmore of the Kentucky Colonels (and then several NBA teams), in this year’s class. Here’s some of the release on Chapman, via WYMT:
Chapman was known as “The Boy King” as he soared to the rim for two seasons with the Wildcats, but his coronation came well before that. Tickets to Apollo games were coveted items throughout his career with the Eagles. Fans packed high school gymnasiums, hoping the high-flying Chapman would do something, anything, phenomenal, and he rarely disappointed.
He appeared to be heading for Louisville until UK hired Eddie Sutton, who made signing Chapman priority one. And when King Rex cast his lot with the Wildcats, it touched off a fervor the Big Blue Nation had never encountered (but has several times since, in this day of over-hyped recruiting).
During Chapman’s sophomore season, the Wildcats appeared to be headed to the Final Four, winning both the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships. But the Wildcats fell short, upset by Villanova in the NCAA regional tournament.
A few weeks later, Chapman announced he would leave for the NBA, citing a dearth of big men coming out that year and a slew of post players due to arrive the following season. The expansion Charlotte Hornets made him the first pick in franchise history, which led to a 12-year professional career.
The class will be honored at a banquet June 8 in Louisville. And now, a little bit of Rex throwing down on Louisville to look back on for your Friday night…