I don’t have to tell you about Kentucky’s incredibly rich history as the greatest program in college basketball history. With that title it is safe to say that there have been hundreds of legendary players to don the blue and white. Yesterday the numbers the Cats would be wearing this season were released and made me wonder with the new crop of Cats coming in what legends would they be replacing? Here are some of the legends that once wore the numbers the Cats are throwing on this season:
Most recently #3 was worn by national champion Terrence Jones. Jones was hot or cold with the fanbase for much of his career but number three was worn by several fan favorites including Ramel “Smooth” Bradley. Another national champ wore #3 in Allen Edwards who got a ring in 96 and 98. Finally, number 3 was worn by one of the wildcat legends Rex Chapman. Number 3 has been a great number for the wildcats and Nerlens Noel will be the latest in a long line of legends.
Four Loko has been wearing el numero quattro for the past few years which was the number worn by several great Kentucky guards. Rajon Rondo wore it while floor general for the Cats. Before Rondo the jersey was worn by Gerald Fitch who was beloved for his time as a Cat. The biggest legend who wore number four though was Kyle Macy. Coach Cal once said that when he was playing he wanted to be Macy so you can see why the number 4 is a pretty big deal.
The number 5 hasn’t produced many wildcat greats. The best player would be Wayne “Tha Burna” Turner who helped to win the title in 98. While there aren’t many legends Polson joins a long line of Kentucky boys who wore the number. Travis Ford is the more prominent name but there have been 7 guys from KY besides Polson who wore number 5.
Last season Twany Beckham wore number #10 but another year has brought another higher number so Archie Goodwin will be wearing a dime on his chest. There have been a ton of players to wear number 10 but my personal favorite is the Polish Powerhouse Lukasz Obrzut. Other greats include Keith Bogans, Dirk Minnefield, and Louie Dampier.
Two great players at UK have worn #11 with the first being the unforgettable Sean Woods. The other great player to wear number 11 was one John Wall who brought the ultimate cool factor to number #11 for the rest of time. Before Wall the jersey featured a lot of smaller names that divided the fanbase especially since they were the coaches son. The first was Herky Rupp was back in the day then Saul Smith wore the number over a decade ago.
Our new point guard from NC State will be wearing the number #12 when he makes his debut next season. Harrow the number was once worn by my favorite UK player Billy Ray Cassady. A lot of other wildcat greats also wore the number including Ralph Beard, Deron Feldhouse, and most recently Brandon Knight. The #12 has produced alot of solid players and hopefully Harrow will step in and add to that list.
The unlucky number thirteen has been avoided by most of the players throughout UK history. Nazr is the only Cat to have worn number 13 and gone on to the NBA. Sam Malone will not be the next.
WCS is wearing the same number as one of the most beloved Cats Demarcus Cousins. Willie is off to a good start to being as well liked as DeMarcus by starring alongside Kyle Wiltjer as the Goonies. The number 15 also hangs in the rafters as it was worn by Alex Groza who lead the Cats to our first national championship.
Alex Poythress will wear the number worn by UK legend Mike Pratt. Pratt was instrumental in bringing Cal to Lexington and is excellent alongside Tom Leach, one day he should have his jersey in the rafters. One person who wore #22 is already up there. Jerry Bird has his jersey retired for being the best wildcat from Corbin. The administration at the time new better than to get on the bad side of a man from Corbin so they retired his jersey to avoid his wrath.
I’d profile the other players who wore number 13 but I just don’t think Brian Long would appreciate it.
Thirty-three hasn’t been worn by too many legends but it was worn by one Ron Mercer. The number has produced three national champions which is pretty solid and up there with the other good numbers.
The number 34 could be argued as the best number for former UK players. Here are the last four guys to wear #34: Deandre Liggins, Scott Padgett, John Pelphrey, Kenny Walker. Also Mike Casey wore the jersey while he was in Lexington. Julius Mays will have the biggest shoes to fill in regards to his jersey number. If he can step into games and knock down some shots I think he will do just fine.
What is your all time favorite number from UK?