Christmas is rapidly approaching and in true blue holiday spirit, instead of the 12 days of Christmas, I thought I’d countdown 12 of my favorite greats of Kentucky Basketball …
Kentucky is arguably the most accomplished program in college basketball but sometimes we forget about the players behind the titles and all the wins …
#12 -Jodie Meeks– On January 13, 2009 Meeks broke the single game scoring record held by Dan Issel with 54 points. Meeks finished the season with 854 total points, second only to Dan Issel. Meeks was drafted 41st by the Milwaukee Bucks.
#11-Patrick Patterson– Patterson is one of the most beloved Wildcats of all time, mainly because of the conditions he played under (cough Billy G cough), and then continued to play his heart out even being overshadowed by freshmen. Patterson is 13th in career points and career rebounds. He was selected 14th overall in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets.
#10 -Keith Bogans– A fan favorite, four year Wildcat. During his senior season he led the wildcats to a 16-0 Southeastern Conference sweep along with an SEC tournament title. The wildcats made a post-season run to the elite eight.
#9 -John Wall– The #1 recruit in the nation was the first big get for new coach Calipari. Wall set the Kentucky single season and single game assist records. He was drafted #1 overall by the Washington Wizards, and I can’t forget to mention his excellent dancing skills. He brought a new, dare I say, swagger to Kentucky. Wall got us attention and helped Kentucky be noticed again by the best recruits.
#8- Sam Bowie– Bowie will probably forever be remembered as the guy who was drafted before Michael Jordan but he accomplished a lot during his time at Kentucky. He is currently the 8th all time rebounder and 3rd all-time shot blocker. He suffered a shin injury that took him out for quite a while but he played well enough his final season to be drafted 2nd overall by the Trailblazers.
#7- Cliff Hagan– Hagan is most well known for his excellent hook shot. He helped lead the team to a National Championship. Hagan had a 51 point performance against Temple in 1953, which held the single game scoring record until 1970.
#6- Rex Chapman– Chapman scored 1,073 points in only two years at Kentucky. He was an All-American and led the team to its 37th SEC title. He was drafted 8th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
#5- Tayshaun Prince– Averaged 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds a game during his 4 years at Kentucky. During his Junior year he was the SEC player of the year. Prince is 8th in career points at Kentucky. One of his most memorable moments is the 5 consecutive 3 pointers against North Carolina.
#4- Jamal Mashburn– He played a big part in altering Kentucky’s history. He revamped Kentucky’s image after a scandal and probation period, he helped UK regain national recognition as legitimate competition. Mashburn helped the Wildcats reach the Final Four in 1993. He was drafted by the Mavericks that same year.
#3- Kyle Macy– He began his career at Purdue but transferred and quickly became a UK favorite. Macy helped lead the Wildcats to the 1978 National Championship. He was the first UK player to be named consensus SEC player of the year. Macy is UK’s free throw shooting percentage leader with a percentage of 89%.
#2- Wayne Turner– He is the most reliable Wildcat of all time, he finished his career as the all-time leader in games played in NCAA DIV 1 men’s basketball games. Turner led his team to 3 consecutive NCAA Championship game appearances, winning in 1996 and 1998. Who else does that?
#1 -Dan “The Man” Issel– This entire list is respectfully debatable but the number 1 spot has to go to Dan Issel every time. He played 3 seasons at Kentucky and is the all-time leading scorer with 2,138 career points, which is a crazy average of 25.7 points a game. Issel is also the all-time leading rebounder with 1,078. He also held the single game scoring record until 2009.
With so much talent throughout Kentucky’s history – who would your top 12 be?
On a quick, unrelated note, Behanan wants us all to know that the Louisville Cardinals will be undefeated, become National Champions, Win the Super Bowl, Be crowned Miss Universe, Become Olympic Gold Medalists and Sweep the World Series. And on that note- Enjoy your day!