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Kentucky’s Most Valuable Transfers

Photo: Quinlan Ulysses Foster |

Reid Travis is expected to be a star in the Kentucky frontcourt this upcoming season. The experienced power forward came to Lexington from Stanford, where he was a two-time First Team All-Pac 12 selection, and ranks 16th on Stanford’s all-time career scoring list.

Travis transferred in to UK this offseason as a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining, and his addition to the roster makes Kentucky one of the early favorites to go all the way in his only season as a Wildcat. It’s fair to say he is a very valuable transfer, but he’s not the first of his kind.

Let’s take a look back at other transfers who made a major impact with the Cats.

Kyle Macy | Purdue

Macy is a Kentucky basketball legend, but he began his collegiate basketball career at Purdue. The Indiana native played one season with the Boilermakers before transferring to Kentucky, where he earned All-American honors in all three seasons and won a national championship.

Macy ranks second all-time in career free throw percentage and sixth all-time in career assists.

Travis Ford | Missouri

Like Macy, another one of UK’s best distributors and free throw shooters began his career at another school. Travis Ford played one season at Missouri before he transferred to Kentucky. After sitting out the 1990-91 season, Ford had a quiet sophomore year and then became a star at point guard in his junior and senior seasons.

He ranks third all-time in career free throw percentage and ninth all-time in assists.

Julius Mays | Wright State

An unsung hero on John Calipari’s 2012-13 team, grad transfer Julius Mays was Kentucky’s only weapon at times in a season of disappointment. Mays came to Kentucky to provide depth behind Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin, but would emerge as a leader as the season progressed. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to lead UK to the NCAA tournament that year, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Mays played his way into a fan favorite.

Josh Harrellson | Southwestern Illinois Junior College

Before he became the phenomenon known as Jorts, Josh Harrellson was a Billy Gillispie pickup out of Southwestern Illinois Junior College. His first seasons at Kentucky are easy to forget; his senior season will be remembered forever for how he burst onto the scene at Louisville and spiked a ball off Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger in the upset win in the Sweet 16.

Mark Pope | Washington

The resignation of head coach Lynn Nance at Washington sent Mark Pope away from the Huskies program. A Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a double-digit scorer as a sophomore, Pope decided to pack up and transfer to Kentucky, where he would play with eight other future NBA players on UK’s 1996 national championship team.

Basil Hayden | Transylvania

Basil Hayden was Kentucky’s first ever All-American back in 1921. But before he played basketball at Kentucky, he played tennis and was a record-holder in the javelin throw at nearby Transylvania.

Hayden’s jersey is retired in Rupp Arena.

Patrick Sparks | Western Kentucky

The hero in the 2004 Louisville game and the almost-hero in the 2005 Elite Eight, Patrick Sparks is responsible for some of our fondest UK basketball memories. But before he was hitting seven three-pointers in a game at Kentucky, Sparks was a Western Kentucky Hilltopper for two seasons. The Central City native decided to transfer when Dennis Felton left WKU for Georgia and assistant coach Pete Herrmann wasn’t given the job. Sparks would go on to become an All-SEC selection at UK.

Heshimu Evans | Manhattan

An NCAA champion at Kentucky in 1998, Heshimu Evans first got his start at Manhattan College, where he was the MAAC Rookie of the Year in 1995 and an All-MAAC selection in 1996. But once he saw an opportunity to join defending national champion Kentucky, Evans transferred to Lexington, where he came off the bench in his first season to help lead the Cats to a second title in three years.

Derek Anderson | Ohio State

Derek Anderson, the high-flying shooting guard out of Louisville, was an Ohio State Buckeye before he was a Kentucky Wildcat. He played two seasons at Ohio State in 1992-93 and 1993-94 and then decided to leave a declining program for one on the rise in Lexington for his final two seasons of college basketball. The decision paid off as he won the 1996 national championship and was on pace for another until he missed the final half of his senior season with a left knee injury.


Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

22 Comments for Kentucky’s Most Valuable Transfers

  1. bwise
    8:05 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Here we go with the Julius mays crap again lmao…he was not a valuable effort or player. The whole team was garbage. That’s why they didn’t make it to the tourney. How can you rank his as one of the most valuable transfers ???

    • Ez21
      8:54 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

      I’m glad someone said it. That’s all I hear on this site. He was no fan favorite, he was decent junk on a team full of trash after Nerlens injury.

    • FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
      9:05 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

      Without Mays and if the Harrow situation remained the same it would’ve forced Archie to become the PG, which might’ve been what was best for Archie and the team. The team would then be give the ball to Archie and GFTO of the way which he excelled at doing and the rest of the team would just have to work around him. I’m not saying this would’ve somehow made them a tourney team but with how erratic Archie was as the SG becoming the PG would’ve added a certain amount of accountability that he lacked otherwise. Damn that team would’ve been different if Teague and/or Lamb came back.

    • michaelb
      12:49 pm July 27, 2018 Permalink

      I remember him for only one thing : he hit a big 3 in one of the first games (we won) after losing nerlens . I’m racking my brain to recall another but just can remember

  2. az1006
    8:11 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    How is Rekalin Sims not on this list?

  3. BlueTXHeart
    8:17 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Patrick Sparks?

    • henderblue
      9:58 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

      Absolutely. He was the first one I thought of. WTH?

  4. Hindu
    8:34 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Julius Mays mentioned but not Patrick Sparks? Come on!

  5. nschulte13
    8:44 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Wow, I never knew Macey was a transfer. And I’m guessing Basil Hayden, is the Basil Hayden the bourbon is named after?

  6. Ez21
    8:52 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    We weren’t defending champs we lost to zona. We never won 2 straight so Mu couldn’t have joined defending champ uk and led his team to a title in his first year.

    • UKwildcats1903
      10:10 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

      Technically he would have joined the defending national champions, then sat out that 96/97 season as a transfer. Then in his first season he helped us win in 97/98. So his first year of eligibility is what they meant.

  7. Bluebloodtoo
    8:55 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Wow. Know all of those players, but didn’t know half of them were transfers. Nice article.

  8. Bluebloodtoo
    8:56 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Mays was not the type of player that carries a team, but he put I a lot of effort and was valuable to that team.

  9. (Aixelsyd)0505
    9:09 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Wow! If your gunna put Mays in that list then you might as well add tawny Beckham

  10. (Aixelsyd)0505
    9:12 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    Plus how do you forget Patrick Sparks, Antwan Barbour, eloy Vargas over Julius Mays!

  11. Bluebloodtoo
    10:57 pm July 26, 2018 Permalink

    I think Sparks would go over Mays too. But Vargas? Really?

  12. bwise
    2:07 am July 27, 2018 Permalink

    Drew has always had this weird obsession with Julius mays..the funniest part of the article is when he stats mays became a fan favorite lol….noooooo heeeee didn’t. Plenty of players being mentioned in these comments that would have fit much better on the list.

  13. Sentient Third Eye
    7:44 am July 27, 2018 Permalink

    As others have pointed out, Patrick Sparks is the glaring omission. Hayden’s section should have at least mentioned his also later coaching UK (to our only losing season until Eddie Sutton, but still…).

  14. Sentient Third Eye
    7:46 am July 27, 2018 Permalink

    People forget that when DA went down with his knee injury, he was probably the front-runner for national player of the year. It was one of the most significant injuries in college ball during the nineties.

    • Ridge Runner
      1:31 pm July 27, 2018 Permalink


  15. Drew Franklin
    9:32 am July 27, 2018 Permalink

    Sparks was on the list and disappeared when I was cutting and pasting it together. My apologies to Muhlenberg County. It has been corrected.

  16. michaelb
    12:56 pm July 27, 2018 Permalink

    Sparks was the man . He also doused Louisville with some ice cold free throws with no time left basically