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Ranking the Calipari Era players in terms of the legacy they left behind…

For all of the scuttlebutt about John Calipari only bringing players to Kentucky’s campus for a one-season layover before entering the NBA, the list of players who have played in Lexington under Calipari includes plenty who have captured our hearts and left a legacy both on and off the court. Some have managed to do both, showering the Kentucky fans with success and things to love both on and off the court. Others have excelled in either one area or the other. A few have done a bit of both, but neither necessarily to the maximum. And finally, a handful have left Kentucky fans with an empty feeling, or major question marks about “what could have been?”

I’ve used a 5-star ranking system below to break down the players who have played under John Calipari in his time at Kentucky. Most of them are what I would call “Cal guys,” but a few were holdovers who Cal inherited from Billy Gillispie. Either way, the players are broken down into 5 categories based on the legacy they left with Kentucky fans. The factors that contribute to the on the court legacy are based upon wins, tournament success and individual success. The factors that contribute to the off the court legacy include connection with the fan base and community, and personality.

**Disclaimer: This ranking system is only considering the Calipari Era players. In the overall history of Kentucky basketball, these players might not be rated quite as highly…

 Beloved off the court AND a national champion

Anthony Davis

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Darius Miller

Only 3 Calipari era players fully embody being both beloved off the court AND experiencing the highest level of success on the court. All 3 of these players hold a special place in the hearts of Kentucky fans regardless of the championship or not. The fact that all 3 were key contributors to a national championship puts them over the top and into the 5-star category.


 Either beloved on/off the court OR unexpected success on the court

Brandon Knight

DeAndre Liggins

Josh Harrellson

Nerlens Noel

DeMarcus Cousins

Patrick Patterson

John Wall

While all of these guys are 4-stars in my opinion, they can be broken down into more specific categories. DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson stole the hearts of Kentucky fans when they stepped up to the plate to become 2 integral pieces in a surprise Final 4 run. Neither player achieved early success when Billy Gillispie was at Kentucky, yet both overcame adversity to fill a specific role during Kentucky’s Final 4 run. Liggins will forever be remembered for his defensive intensity and Harrellson will forever be remembered for his Jorts and pure heart.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins burst onto the scene as absolute super stars both on and off the court. Kentucky hadn’t seen the star power of guys like those 2 in quite some time. The mix of their personalities and immense talent brought back to the fun to Kentucky basketball.

Patrick Patterson and Nerlens Noel are 2 players who fit a similar mold in my mind in the hearts of Kentucky fans. In their time in Lexington, they both found a way to truly connect to the fan base, while also showcasing a generous and philanthropic side. Both players were also warriors on the court, and you never had to question the effort coming from either of them.

Brandon Knight was an interesting character off the court, though rather quiet and not necessarily a player which fans felt they “knew” deeply. Knight earned his 4-star status though when he became (as Matt likes to call them) a “stone cold killer” during Kentucky’s Final 4 run. In just one post-season, Knight hit a few of the biggest shots in recent Kentucky basketball memory.


 Beloeved for something EITHER on or off the court, but not necessarily a strong combination of both

Julius Mays

Doron Lamb

Terrence Jones

Marquis Teague

Eric Bledsoe

Perry Stevenson

Mark Krebs

Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Eric Bledsoe all wound up having very successful Kentucky basketball careers. Teague, Jones and Lamb were all part of a national championship team– though the 3 probably weren’t as beloved by the fans as some of the other players on that team. All 4 of the players mentioned had great success on the court, but didn’t necessarily make deep connections with the fan base off the court.

Mark Krebs, Perry Stevenson and Julius Mays were all personalities and players who fans felt a connection with off the court. Krebs won our hearts over as one of the most beloved walk-ons in the past 10 years. We felt a connection with him as well as he shared his senior day moment with his ailing mother with all of us. Stevenson had a hilarious personality, which has only been put on display even more in his time post-Kentucky. Mays was one of the few genuinely through and through likable players on this year’s Kentucky team. The team struggled, but Mays stepped up as a leader and over-achieved in his season as a 5th year senior.


 Players who fans feel generally positive about, but didn’t necessarily see tons of on the court success

Twany Beckham

Eloy Vargas

Ramon Harris


  Players who left Kentucky fans feeling empty…or with lingering questions

Archie Goodwin

Ryan Harrow

Stacey Poole

Darnell Dodson

Daniel Orton

While none of these players necessarily did anything outrageous to anger fans, all of them kind of leave Kentucky fans with a “meh” type of a feeling. None of the 5 achieved huge success on the court, and the connection off the court was also lacking.


TBD/Predictions: Players who have started their Kentucky careers, but the status of their legacy is still to be determined…

Jon Hood (Prediction: 2-star)

Willie Cauley-Stein  (Prediction: 4-star)

Alex Poythress  (Prediction: Honestly could be anywhere from a 1-star to a 5-star)

Kyle Wiltjer (Prediction: 3-4 star)

Jarrod Polson  (Prediction: 3-4 star)


Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

71 Comments for Ranking the Calipari Era players in terms of the legacy they left behind…

  1. capt
    8:20 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    horse meat

  2. Merlin's
    8:21 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Jon hood is more than a 2star. It’s not his fault Cal wont play him more. He’s a Kentuckian playing for the University of Kentucky, a team full of talented mercenaries. He may have Two rings before its all said and done, definitely higher than two stars

  3. Rothchild
    8:21 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Worst post on this site in a LONG time…

  4. Right On
    8:28 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I absolutely agree 100% with this post. #2 John Hood may be a Kentuckian but he has contributed absolutely nothing during his time here. In my opinion (which doesn’t matter) Hood winning Mr. Basketball shows how weak our in state talent has been Post Rondo. Just saying!

  5. bluffe
    8:28 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Idiotic post

  6. pity the postman
    8:31 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Why all the hate for the post? Keep on keeping in on Ally.

  7. Walden Schmidt
    8:32 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Championship or not PPAT IS A 5 STAR.

  8. Grant
    8:33 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Disagree with Goodwin. Dude played hard most every night.

  9. Merlin's
    8:34 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    #4 yeah that’s why I said its not his fault he doesn’t get playing time. The fact that he can’t see the floor when surrounded by NBA level talent should not diminish his award or the talent level of Kentucky. True the winner isn’t always one of the best in the nation but the talent level is cyclical. He could have attended another school and possibly started all four years but chose to come here. And you bet your ass he contributes every day in practice and the classroom, just sayin

  10. ukinhc
    8:37 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    #8… I agree 100%. Goodwin does not deserve to be grouped with the other guys listed in his group. He was selfish and didnt play smart all of the time, but this is bs

  11. Elkattio
    8:40 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think by the time he leaves Polson will be a solid 4-star with a possible 5-star. The young man plays with his heart and although his basketball career may be ending soon I’m certain he’s going to find success off the court once the year is over.

  12. bung
    8:40 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think Jon plays a lot this year and wins 9=5 star

  13. mudcreekmark
    8:41 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    10)Yet you mentioned two reasons Goodwin deserves to be where he is.

  14. Right On
    8:41 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Hood averaged 29 pts in High school and won Mr Basketball. His career avg at UK is a whooping 1.5 pts per game. Good on him for sticking it out and finishing his degree. But as far as basketball is concerned his a disappointment. He would have been better served going to Transylvania, Bellarmine, or Murray. Not hating just stating facts dude will be forgotten unfortunately.

  15. mudcreekmark
    8:45 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I would move Patterson, Wall and Cousins up to a five star. I loved that year. Just got unlucky. I would also move Bledsoe and Lamb to four stars. Especially Lamb. I loved his smooth, cool game.I think you could have eliminated the two stars all together and put those guys at one stars.Also think you could put a couple of those as no rated or zero stars.

  16. bung
    8:46 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    yeah Jon has 2 b allowed to play b4 he gets big numbers…last season at the end it was obvious he should have played more…

  17. bill
    8:47 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Old school ksr of drew, Matt, biesner, gidel > than current ksr

  18. J
    8:47 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    D Lamb needs moved up IMO

  19. Free Drunklin
    8:48 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Good post. No way hood gets above a 2 star.

  20. UK Homer
    8:52 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Just my two cents, but guys who stay 2 years while getting a Final Four AND a Championship will always be 5 stars to me.

  21. CatsInTheNBA
    8:52 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Not diggin’ this post. There is no way John Wall is not a 5-Star, championship or not. He is about to get paid.

  22. Dustin
    8:54 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Patterson, Wall, and Cousins should be moved up to 5* status
    Lamb, Jones, and Bledsoe should move up to 4* status

  23. James in Ann Arbor
    8:58 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    TJones and DLamb at 3 stars???? When you take BBN to the Final Four as freshmen and COME BACK for a second helping that results in #8 while being nothing but awesome teammates…I’m just gonna stop there. 4.5 stars for each in my book; minimum

  24. Theyallwearblue
    9:01 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Do you also rate which of your kids you love the most?

  25. Uknation
    9:01 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    T jones….most underrated player in UK history….all because of one bad game at IU….he was a major part of UK final four and championship run in 11, 12. He carried us against UConn and we would have gotten 8 then if he had help in that ugly game….he was 3-0 against Louisville and always balled…he also came back when he was a projected lottery pick….Jones gets no respect.

  26. James in Ann Arbor
    9:03 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Not to mention TJones taking the most public ass chewing from Cal as a freshman on national tv and still wanted to give BBN another year…move him to 4.85

  27. Right On
    9:07 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Teach em Bout Kentucky ! The Real T-Jones gets 5 Stars to go with his Championship Ring !

  28. Don't like this
    9:10 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    #24 my thoughts exactly. Think about what some of these former players,who played hard and did everything they could to help our program, would think if they saw their “ranking” of how much the fans loved them. Just my opinion. They are all 5 stars to me.

  29. Bob B
    9:16 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think you got it except on one – A lot of fans loved Archie Goodwin’s effort, he at least tried to make something happen.
    I for one would love to have seen him return and wish him the very best.

  30. Rei
    9:19 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    lol Vargas

  31. Nah
    9:21 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Couldn’t agree less with this post.

  32. William's thoughts
    9:22 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Patrick Patterson should be number one, there were 21 of us together tonight when someone brought this up. Patrick was #1 all around. We think TJ could move up one notch as well

  33. ukjonny9
    9:33 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think that the difference here between a 4 and a 5 is the love off the court was just as high AND they added a championship. So I’m fine with that. I too would have moved TJones and Lamb up another slot but I can understand someone taking them there as they didn’t have that larger than life personality that others did. (Actually Lamb was very quiet but I’ll always be partial to a player that can splash 3’s like he did. )

    Very good post Ally. (See people, it’s okay to have a different opinion than a writer and still appreciate and enjoy the post.)

  34. Newt
    9:36 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    First category needs an exception…John Wall is this generation’s Mashburn. He was THE game-changing recruit. As meaningless a title as ‘best single-season team to not win the Title’ is, the 2010 Cats definitely get a mention in the conversation. There is no 2012 championship without Wall in 2010 and that’s not meant to slight Boogie. But Wall’s just as 5-star as Mashburn would have been had there been a KSR in 1997.

  35. Seriously
    9:36 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    I never felt “generally positive” when eloy vargas was in the game lol..just bein honest

  36. Dam1lex
    9:40 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Stupid generalized article. I can understand the negativity about Daniel Orton. But Archie played all out for this team. He played with heart wanted to score when no one else would even try. He’s the only guy on the team who had fire and wanted to dunk on people’s head ( once nerlens was out). I will Always love the way he played here. People complain about his “wild” drives to the basket but if it wasn’t for that half of the time I feel like we would have a shotclock violation because no one wanted to do anything.

  37. Duuuuuude
    9:43 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Nice post Ally.

  38. Blake
    9:45 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    All the boys that put on the BLUE AND WHITE are 5 STARS in the eyes of some fan dont degrade our boys by personal preferences. GO CATS!

  39. ObjectionYourHonor
    10:01 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Patterson, Wall and Cousins have to be 5 stars. Program starters, incredibly talented and leaders. They are EASY five stars and am confused with them even in contention for fours. They are beyong Liggins and parallel with Gilchrist. Especially with the likes of Krebs and Mays in the three star category. Their legacys exceed Mays and Krebs by a severe long shot. Gotta be 5s IMO.

  40. Catmandew
    10:03 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    That ’11 team was awesome. They gave us a final four we had been waiting on since Donna Smith, I mean Saul Smith project. The Ohio State sweet 16 game will always be one of THE best in UK history.

  41. thenamerobdigity
    10:09 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Darius Miller … the 5 star guy that barely started…. I lol at this list

  42. the Big Dog
    10:23 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Stupid system of ranking players. How can Patterson and John Wall be ranked below Miller, who didn’t even start. These two players saved our program.

  43. D miller
    10:26 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    44 yeah I only started in 85 games to be exact. Too bad I barely started any games. Only Pat started in more of all these players

  44. jaws2
    10:41 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t give a damn about this ranking stuff, but when I look at that photo all I can think about is how damn good that team was. No doubt they would have picked up #9 this year. This team will go down as one of the best ever.

  45. catdaddyd
    10:47 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    Like the post, it’s off season folks. I agree with it except for Liggins. Never liked his game…

  46. warren
    10:53 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    What’s up with all the mean & hateful comments. This is a good post & KSR is great!

  47. eddie vedder
    11:01 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    TJ has to be a 5* for reasons that have already been stated, he is very underrated.

  48. Worst post ever
    11:22 pm May 23, 2013 Permalink

    First time I have ever replied to this site. One of the worst thought out/written post of all time. Any one who likes this or agrees with this is just trying to internet kiss up to a chick. Have you ever even watched UKBB?

  49. Imactastic
    12:02 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Amen#24 I don’t like this and def. don’t agree with tjones and lamb…. Goodwins a 2

  50. UKBlue1!
    12:16 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Terrance Jones and Deron Lamb both should be at least a 4 star. NO TJ or Deron no National champ.

  51. Blueston
    12:29 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    So if WCS is only predicted to be a 4 star, you don’t think we will win next year? You are not my friend.

  52. Clint
    12:34 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Not feeling this post at all. Players shouldn’t be degraded unless they ask for it, like orton. I understand this post is an opinion but even at that I disagree with a lot of it. Goodwins ranking is a joke. Kid played hard. Jones and lambs rankings are too.

  53. Kevin C.
    2:44 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Ally, you and your rating system suck. That is all.

  54. Dt
    3:25 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    This is a One-star post.

  55. Bulldawg
    3:38 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    ksr commenters are the most cynical posters and most of them suck!!!! Don’t listen to ’em Ally. If it is not a celeb posting they always give ’em a hard time… and they shouldn’t, except for maybe corey nicols and bti… GO CATS!!!!!

  56. brad
    7:25 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Jorts not on any list?

  57. brad
    7:26 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    oops..never mind..failed reading classes

    7:54 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Terrence Jones in the 3-star range, come on Ally.

  59. AnthonyBBN
    8:11 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Real T-Jones connected with fan base off court and deserves 4-5 stars. Remember, he paid to have Stone Cold Willow’s teeth fixed, pretty unselfish move on his part.

  60. Cking9698
    8:33 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Doron Lamb & Marquis Teague saved our asses in the championship run…. They deserve higher…as does T Jones…..

    WHY RANK???? All these guys are special to me,

    Poor choice to post…as some guys will have their feelings hurt…


  61. BNClay
    8:42 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Let’s don’t forget the injury set Hood back. And he could have easily transfered to a smaller D1 school and average 15 points a game. He may not ever contribute much on the court, but the fact that he has stuck with the Cats and played hard should get him 3 stars.

    Next point: Ramon Harris and Eloy > Twanny. Ramon and Eloy actually did make some contribution to the teams on the court sucess. Twanny did not.

  62. Drew
    8:45 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    This is a hateful post but I don’t think it’s intended to be. These boys are just children who choose to be in Lexington, most of the time far away from their families. It’s mean to say oh you suck because you didn’t do this or that. How would you have felt in high school if the editor of the yearbook did something like that to you? All these kids need to be supported even if thy make choices that you may not agree with. I can see this kind of post for a pro team but not for a group of kids.

  63. RICK
    9:03 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    These guys and gals post on this site and some of you want to say if they are good or bad poat. Shut the hell up and read them or dont who cares.

  64. Canadian Mountme
    9:08 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    This post is in pretty poor taste. These are all our guys no need to hate on some of them on a “fan” site. Poor form!

  65. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    9:20 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Bad idea for a post. A Cat = A Cat, don’t be an ass and rank them.

  66. flippy23
    9:59 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Pretty stupid article……rating these guys is just dumb………

  67. flippy23
    10:07 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    Actually…..the more I look at this absurd article the worse it gets…….to characterize the fan affection for any of these players is impossible……there are probably many fans that greatly preferred Josh Harrelson to John Wall….or Eric Bledsoe to MKG………..Most of Ally’s stuff is at least readible, this post is an exception to that……ranks up there with Mrs TT’s taxidermy lesson last month……….

  68. IndyUKAlum
    10:25 am May 24, 2013 Permalink

    >”…Daniel Orton… While none of these players necessarily did anything outrageous to anger fans…” You mean besides leaving campus mid-semester, blatantly lying about his intentions, and putting a serious dent in the team’s GPA and image? Take him off the list.

  69. Big A
    12:09 pm May 24, 2013 Permalink

    I like this list. I would move Terrance and doron to 4 star status though. Not only are they national champs but they were key players who made a final 4 run the season before. Their on court success is up there with the Pitino era players who stayed at UK longer. And how could you forgot the off court contributions Terrance made “teach em bout Kentucky” , the mechanical bull and his cell phone in Ashley Judd’s car? I argue both of these guys as 5 star players!

  70. gooocats
    12:53 pm May 24, 2013 Permalink

    I know we’re in a “Summer lull” but there’s something about the spirit of this post that doesn’t seem right to me. I don’t think anyone has a right to “rank” these guys who, as someone described earlier in some form or fashion, came here to help the program out and in the end, for the most part, had good experiences that were not only beneficial for them on a personal level but also to us as fans.


  71. dave
    5:27 pm May 24, 2013 Permalink

    17: its not even close. would much rather have 6-7 posts/day from jones, drew, beis than 25/day as is