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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Let’s Retire Some Jerseys

Do you realize that since the 1992 senior class was put into the rafters at Kentucky, only TWO players have had their jerseys retired at UK, Jamal Mashburn and Tony Delk?  Yet, the program has had one of its best 25 years run since 1992, winning 3 titles and going to 8 Final Fours.  Three head coaches have led UK to those titles.  And yet, only two players from that era have reached the rafters.  Assuming we might not have fall sports, and even if we do they will be limited in many ways, I think one thing we could do to add to the fall calendar is let’s start putting some deserving 1990s and 2000s players into the rafters.  I think there are six modern era guys who are no-brainers:

1. Tayshaun Prince: If Prince could have managed to make a Final Four in his time at UK, I think he has serious consideration for a Top 5 player in school history.  He was an All-American twice, a fan favorite, and one of the biggest stat stuffers in UK history.  He had individual moments that were legendary, such as his five threes against UNC and his 40-point performance in the NCAA Tournament.  He won an NBA title and a gold medal, not that that should be a factor but still.  Prince is going to end up there no doubt; let’s speed up the process.

2. Keith Bogans: Pretty much the same argument as Prince.  I think he was the most talented player of the 2000s Cats.  No Final Fours taint his legacy plus a disastrous junior season.  But his stats stack up with almost any UK legend.  An absolute no-brainer.

3. John Wall: Wall’s one season was certainly one of the best in school history but this selection was as much for his cultural impact on the program as his on-court performance.  Wall changed the trajectory of this program from Tubby-Gillispie into the Calipari era and did it with such personality that was so needed in this program.  And oh yeah, he was an amazing player.

4. Anthony Davis: I shouldn’t really have to explain why Davis is a slam dunk.  Every major college basketball award.  National champion.  Cultural icon.  The absolute total package.

5-6. Tubby/Calipari: Tubby is long overdue.  Win a title at Kentucky and you should be up there.  Tubby did it with class and kept UK at a high level for most of his career.  Rupp and Hall had down years too but just in a less sensitive society.  And I say let’s go ahead and put Cal up there too.  He’s already done more than enough to be there so what’s the wait?  Are we worried his ego will get bigger?  C’mon now. The guy is a legend and did it under the most stressful circumstances.  Let’s not delay the inevitable.

Now, these are the six modern era guys that I would put in this fall.  Bring some positivity to such a negative time.  Now, because I have written on this site long enough to know how this discussion will go, here is why I didn’t choose the following guys:

Wayne Turner: Nobody has a more passionate group of jersey retired supporters than Turner.  While I am usually a “no” for Turner, I have softened on this a bit over the years.  My argument has always been that Turner was the benefactor of the most talent rich era of UK basketball.  But he was a star on the ’98 national title team, a 4-year significant contributor, and a winner.  I wouldn’t raise a stink if Turner was put up there.

Jeff Sheppard/Allen Edwards: While I don’t think these two guys are the same, I group them together because people who argue for either are not taking their total careers into consideration.  Sheppard had a very good career at Kentucky, but “jersey retired” good?  No.  And Edwards made little impact on the program until the 1998 season.  But that national title run was so good, with so many legendary moments, that we project these guys in the sphere of the legends at UK.

Gerald Fitch: So here’s a guy that actually had a sneaky great career at Kentucky.  He played second fiddle for three years and then in his senior season, was All-American good and led the Cats to a #1 seed.  If they don’t get bounced by UAB, I think the argument for Fitch is strong.  Alas, he is just barely a no for me.

Ramel/Joe: Bradley and Crawford should always be shown tremendous respect for what they had to put up with at Kentucky.  But neither actually had careers or impacts at the level of the greats.

All Other One and Dones: So Wall and Davis are my only two that I put in.  And that doesn’t mean that Karl Towns was not one of the 10 best players in UK history.  I think Julius Randle might have been one of the best 15 or so players in UK history.  De’Aron Fox is one of the 5 best point guards in school history.  But jersey retirement is about the TOTALITY of a UK career, both stats and impact.  And Wall’s impact and Davis’ stats get them over the top.  The rest of these guys don’t.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

30 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Let’s Retire Some Jerseys

  1. RealCatsFan
    10:08 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

    Glad you mentioned Tubby. Long, LONG overdue!

    If 2014 had turned out differently, I think you might have to put Aaron Harrison up there.

  2. lexslamman
    10:23 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

    Yes to Tubby, Prince, Bogans and Fitch.

    No to everyone else for now. And no “one and dones” ever belong in the rafters. Ever.

    • PensacolaCat
      10:47 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Davis deserves it, and anybody that says otherwise has an agenda.

    • RealCatsFan
      5:01 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      So where do we draw the line then? Two and through? Three and flee? The fact is, we are highly unlikely to ever see a great player stay for 4 years ever again, unless something changes dramatically. If the G-league sucks all the talent out of college basketball and everyone stays 4 years, then maybe you will see 3 and 4 year guys being “legendary” status again, but is still pretty unlikely.

  3. mashburnfan1
    10:36 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

    I don’t know about one and dones being up there, if so only one deserves it and that is AD since he helped win a title and did win all the awards. Being up there is not something deserving in one year but could argue for him. Bogans is tough as well, can’t just go by stats. Winning titles matters, well it used to. Been lots of players called great, ncaa and nba, because they had stats but on every team someone has to score. Best player on a terrible team is not a great player just because he got stats.

  4. 4everUKBlue
    10:49 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

    This is going to be unpopular but it’s my opinion. Tubby was a great person and a good coach, but outside of winning a championship with a team handed to him by Pitino, he under achieved and his brand of basketball was boring… IMO. I can’t see putting him in the rafters for those reasons. I have my opinion and everyone else has their’s.

    • CrystalBall
      11:16 am July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Agree with 4everUKBlue. Tubby is a great person. Kind of man, and famiy you would like to live next door to. A good coach but
      not a right fit for the UK job. Only wanted to coach. Did not want to be involved with all the other duties required to coach at UK.
      Things which were in his contract and he was being well compensated for. Such as tv/radio commercials, personal appearances, etc.

    • _lilman_
      12:09 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      AGREE 100% with your opinion

    • RealCatsFan
      12:33 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Guess I’ll have to agree to disagree. He still won a title. And he came within a rebound or a missed foul call on a Patrick Sparks 3-pointer of at least one more FF. That team that Bogans was a part of was absolutely the team to beat that year and the hottest team in the country until he sprained his ankle against Wisconsin. Maybe not the most exciting team to watch offensively, but his teams played solid defense to the point where they would demoralize opponents (at least they did in Bogans’ last year.) Toward the end Tubby started to mail it in, especially regarding recruiting, but he ran a classy program, kept us out of NCAA trouble, and he won. You can claim he had a championship handed to him, but many people say he outcoached K in that regional final game in 98. Besides, Pitino got greedy and headed for greener pastures, so it definitely wasn’t HIS championship.

    • mashburnfan1
      12:43 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Tubby could coach but was a boring style so big time recruits stayed away. Imagine what he could have done with top recruiting classes, that highest level type of player just did not want to play that style or that hard on defense. The other stuff who cares, is about winning titles. He did that with his top talented team he just could not get the top players to come play. If you could have the early version of Cal recruit and Tubby coach we would have a dynasty. Threepeat or Fourpeat or more.

    • bbn606
      12:43 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Totally agree, I could not have said it better.

    • 4everUKBlue
      1:06 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Bottom line is Tubby only got to one final four with a team recruited and trained by Pitino. Cal runs a classy program, has kept us out of trouble and won as did all the other coaches not named Sutton or Gillespie. @mashbum, recruiting is part of the job of coaching, but you probably didn’t know that, you should go back to bragging on a football coach and program who hasn’t won even one national title. Not saying I’m not proud of all Stoops has done but you make excuses for his losses while crucifying Cal for his. Speaking of the top recruiting class of all times, including the greatest recruit of all time (according to ESPN), you should take a look at your hero, K. How can a coach possibly top that colossal failure? I’m sure you’ll find a way.

    • 4everUKBlue
      1:15 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      And I never said Tubby’s championship was Pitino’s, what I am saying is he was only able to win it with a team of players Pitino recruited and trained to never give up, which,IMO, is the main reason they kept coming back in the game for the W against K, that and Tubby’s refusal to call a TO.

    • RealCatsFan
      2:30 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Yeah, Tubby wasn’t in the same league recruiting as Cal, but that class that had Rondo, Bradley, Crawford, and Morris was near the top if not THE top class that year. That team came very close to a FF. OT game against MSU – heartbreaker. One rebound away from a FF. And yes, Cal has lost a few heartbreakers like that as well.

      At the end of the day – PUT THE MAN’S JERSEY IN THE RAFTERS. He has earned it.

    • 4everUKBlue
      2:38 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Cal has lost a few heartbreakers but Cal has been to more that one elite 8, final 4 and championship game. At the end of the day Tubby has been to one final four because of Pitino’s recruiting. That’s your opinion, my opinion is he has not earned the right to be in the rafters.

    • RealCatsFan
      5:08 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Fair enough. But anyone who brings us a championship should be up there. Those aren’t exactly growing on trees.

      Let’s just throw this scenario out there – Cal retires and a few years later his jersey is hoisted up to those dusty rafters. A couple years after that, Tubby passes on without ever having his jersey up there. It’s going to look pretty bad to a lot of people that the only black head coach at UK, who also won a championship, is also the only one not represented with this honor. Now I think it would be unfair to him if he was white, black or purple, but you can’t ignore the fact that UK has already had it’s name drug through the racial dirt by certain people. I could actually see that being used for negative recruiting by some programs.

    • 4everUKBlue
      6:00 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      I wondered how long it would be before race was brought into the argument. Race has nothing to do with it, Cal has done much more for the program while winning more with more success than Tubby, but of course there is no doubt there will be those who ALWAYS play the race card that will be screaming to the rafters (pun intended) as usual, I would expect nothing less. Race should not be a deciding factor in who is in the rafters, but it probably will, right before they petition to have Rupp Arena razed.

    • 4everUKBlue
      6:04 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Being in the rafters IS an honor and should be “earned and not given”, put Tubby in the rafters and it’s given IMO. I don’t believe just winning a championship while underachieving afterwards is earning his way into the rafters. Tubby helped us become irrelevant after 98′.

  5. blueNtheFace
    12:42 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

    All you said plus Wayne turner. Without him we don’t win in 98! You could argue Sheppard as well.

    • Bluehender
      12:52 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      And Scott Padgett too. Right? Hit the big shot against Duke..

    • RealCatsFan
      2:31 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Cameron Mills says “what about me?” 🙂

  6. Keets
    3:52 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

    Tubby – yes
    Cal – yes, but not while active
    Wall – I can understand hesitancy against one and dones, but UK’s retired jerseys are subjective based on contribution to the program (unlike UNC’s set criteria for both “honoring” and “retiring” jerseys in their rafters), so, YES, one and done or not, it is simply irrefutable that Wall’s contribution kickstarted this most recent, decade-long era for UK, playing (at the very least) a major, major role in this string of talent, program reputation and success. One and done by itself shouldn’t exclude him, if anything it proves how valuable he was to the program’s trajectory in just one season.
    AD – yes

    • RealCatsFan
      4:57 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

      Agree 100%

  7. jaws2
    3:57 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

    PensacolaCat please enlighten us on what you believe lexslamman’s ‘agenda’ is. I’m really curious as to what you’re implying here.

  8. miggles
    3:59 pm July 29, 2020 Permalink

    I’d be cool with Chuck Hayes.

  9. friendsofcoal
    1:20 am July 30, 2020 Permalink

    IMO (which doesn’t matter), the only ones that need to go up in the rafters today are:

    Tubby (He led and coached the team to a NC and not just anybody can do that no matter who put your team together.)

    Prince (He was a stud and a fan favorite.)

    AD (I could type a list a mile long about him if I had the time.)

    Having your jersey retired at the most high profile college basketball program there is should be VERY tough to earn! AD is the only OAD that deserves it as of now because he dominated, won about every award there was, and led us to a NC!

    • friendsofcoal
      1:22 am July 30, 2020 Permalink

      Cal deserves to go up obviously but I don’t think you put a coach up there while he’s still active.

  10. bbn606
    8:22 am July 30, 2020 Permalink

    Right now I’m only seeing Anthony Davis and Cal after he retires.

  11. CrystalBall
    10:56 am July 30, 2020 Permalink

    Don’t forget; During the Tubby years UK lost 5 consecutive games to Vandy. First time in history losing 5 straight to an SEC team.
    Later lost 7 consecutive to Florida. Also, finished behind Tenn in regular season standings for 3 consecutive seasons. First time
    UK ever finished behind ANY SEC team for 3 consecutive years. These “firsts” are why l don’t think Tubby should be so honored.

  12. Buttered Popcorn
    4:32 pm July 30, 2020 Permalink

    Darius Miller for sure. He played more games as a Wildcat than any other if I remember my stats correctly.