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KSR’s All-Decade UK Basketball Team

Kentucky had the best decade in college basketball with 31 NCAA Tournament wins, nine NCAA appearances, seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and an NCAA championship from 2010-2019. The Cats also opened and closed the decade with wins over Louisville, which is always fun.

But which of John Calipari’s Cats shined brightest during that span? We’ll tell you in our All-Decade UK basketball teams.


ALL-DECADE FIRST TEAM


John Wall | G

“Wall is one of two unanimous All-Decade first team selections and his spot will not be challenged by anyone. He made Kentucky cool again, while earning the program’s first ever national Player of the Year award.” (Drew Franklin)

“The one who started it all under John Calipari at Kentucky, Wall brought the swagger back to Lexington en route to the No. 1 overall pick back in 2010.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“When John Wall became the face of the UK basketball ‘franchise,’ he became a symbol of changing times in Lexington. The Billy G years were behind us; the Calipari era had officially begun. His basketball skills aren’t too shabby, either.” (Maggie Davis)

“While John Calipari has recruited undeniably the best crop of point guards this decade, none have been better or more influential than John Wall. Wall’s high school mixtape is still a thing of legend and he immediately infused Kentucky with a much-needed shot of cool. The fact that this group was robbed of a Final Four is the second biggest travesty of the Calipari Era, right behind the loss to Wisconsin in 2015 (ugh).” (Tyler Thompson)

 

Tyler Ulis | G

“Best point guard to ever play at Kentucky. I said it.” (Drew Franklin)

“Arguably the greatest floor general in Kentucky basketball history, Ulis was a pivotal role player on the 2014-15 team before taking over the offense in 2015-16. At 5-foot-9, the Chicago, IL product had the heart to match his elite talent. Special player.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“Now that we’re doing this, Tyler Ulis actually reminds me a lot of Lynn Bowden. His heart, determination and sheer will-to-win is immeasurable. He truly gave his all every time he put on that Kentucky uniform, and his ‘bleeding eye’ picture (and back-to-back MVP belts) from the Louisville matchup is iconic. That shows you the kind of player Ulis was during his time at Kentucky.” (Maggie Davis)

“Outside of John Wall, I believe Tyler Ulis has been the most important guard of the John Calipari Era. Few others have shown his heart or grit, and even though his game may not translate to the pro level, he’s one of the most beloved players in Kentucky Basketball history.” (Tyler Thompson)

 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | F

“Like Ulis, MKG brought the intensity and heart every time he stepped on the floor. A defensive-minded wing with a relentless motor, the former Wildcats was a key reason Kentucky took home its eighth national title in 2012.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“WWMKGD, aka “What Would Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Do,” became the refrain of the national championship season because of his work ethic. Although his pro career hasn’t gone as expected, MKG will remain the example John Calipari points to when he wants his players to exhibit endless hustle and heart.” (Tyler Thompson)

“MKG was the South Region’s Most Outstanding Player during Kentucky’s run to its eighth national championship and there isn’t a loose ball he won’t dive for.” (Drew Franklin)

 

Anthony Davis | F

“Davis is arguably the greatest college basketball player of all time, making his spot on the All-Decade team a guarantee. Was there an award or honor The Brow didn’t win?” (Jack Pilgrim)

“Anthony Davis is a freak of nature. If he’s not First Team in this exercise we all need to have a talk.” (Tyler Thompson)

“Of course Anthony Davis belongs on this list. He also also belongs on the all-decade first team for all of college basketball, and one day, he’ll belong in the Hall of Fame.” (Maggie Davis)

“Davis can put this trophy on the mantle next to his First Team NBA All-Decade trophy… and all of those other trophies he won in college. And that gold medal.”

DeMarcus Cousins | F/C

“There are a lot of great contenders for this position: Boogie, Karl Towns, and Willie Cauley-Stein. I went back and forth for a long, long time before letting the stats dictate my decision. Cousins averaged 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds in his year at Kentucky, the most of all three bigs. Stats aren’t always the fairest way to decide these things, but in this case, they’re the easiest.” (Tyler Thompson)

“Boogie was the brute force down low that caused endless headaches for opposing teams during the 2009-10 season. Factor in John Wall’s presence on the perimeter, it’s no surprise that the five-star duo was nearly unstoppable in their lone season in Lexington.” (Jack Pilgrim)


ALL-DECADE SECOND TEAM


Brandon Knight | G

“One of the most underrated guards of the Calipari era, Knight dominated in the scoring department, averaging 17.3 points on 42% from the field, 38% from three, and 80% from the line. Knight’s last-second shots and roles in upset victories in the 2011 NCAA Tournament allowed for Calipari’s first Final Four at Kentucky.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“Even though Knight served as point guard in his year in Lexington, his shooting proves he can play off the ball too. His gym rat mentality and high basketball IQ were a huge part of the 2010-11 team’s improbable Final Four run, which earns him a FIRST team vote from me.” (Tyler Thompson)

 

Aaron Harrison | G

“The two most important pieces to return from the 2013-14 team that lost in the National Championship, the Harrison twins have been a vastly underrated and under appreciated backcourt duo from the time they stepped on campus to their eventual departure. Their production was undeniable, and Aaron’s string of epic shots in the 2014 Tournament will live in Kentucky lore forever.” (Zack Geoghegan)

“His numbers aren’t crazy because you can’t measure clutch.” (Nick Roush)

“How could you not include Aaron Harrison on this list? Do you even want to win close games?” (Maggie Davis)

“Let the record show I voted for De’Aaron Fox here, but I have no problem with Aaron Harrison’s selection because that 2014 tournament run was a real blast. Now let’s watch that video again.” (Drew Franklin)

 

Malik Monk | G

“Malik Monk is the best pure scorer in the Calipari era. When he got hot, everyone got out of his way.” (Nick Roush)

“In his one year in Lexington, Monk scored the fourth-most points in a single season in school history and the most by anyone in the Calipari era. He also set a new record for points in a game by a freshman with FORTY SEVEN against North Carolina. Not to mention, he is one of the best three-point shooters in school history and I’ll put him up there among the best dunkers too.” (Drew Franklin)

“Man, could this year’s team use a Malik Monk or what? He was one of the best shooters (and makers) we’ve seen come through this program, certainly in the last decade. I’ll never forget his career night against North Carolina.” (Maggie Davis).

Karl-Anthony Towns | F

“I’m actually crying inside about not putting Karl on the First Team, but if we’re honest, he didn’t hit his stride until midseason. You could even make a case for putting him on the Third Team, which is preposterous considering he was a No. 1 pick. That being said, when Karl learned how to fight down low, he was unstoppable. I’m still bitter about him not getting the ball more often vs. Wisconsin. Ugh!” (Tyler Thompson)

“To start the year, Towns was a fringe top-10 recruit with plenty to work on in his game. As the season progressed, he developed into the sure fire No. 1 overall pick and was instrumental in leading the 2014-15 team to a perfect 38-0 start. Averaged 10.3 points, second most on the team, and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Also led the team in blocked shots with 88.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“Karl-Anthony Towns is the epitome of player development at Kentucky. Although he was a “one-and-done,” we witnessed tremendous growth out of the big man during his time in Lexington. He hit his stride at a wonderful time, and he helped lead my favorite (ok, probably everyone’s favorite) UK team of the decade to a 38-0 season. Plus, would you really want to leave little Karlito off this list?” (Maggie Davis).

“I still think John Calipari created Karl-Anthony Towns in a secret underground laboratory beneath the Craft Center.” (Drew Franklin)

Willie Cauley-Stein | F/C

“One of the best defensive talents we’ve seen at Kentucky, opposing teams were terrified to enter the paint with Cauley-Stein lurking. In 2014-15, averaged 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game en route to consensus First Team All-American honors.” (Jack Pilgrim)

“In a very successful era of Kentucky Basketball, Willie may be one of the most decorated Cats. He came to Lexington as a four-star recruit but after three years, left as the National Defensive Player of the Year, Consensus First Team All-American, and the No. 6 draft pick, proof that John Calipari’s system isn’t just about one-and-dones.” (Tyler Thompson)

“Willie Cauley-Stein was a fun player. From his impressive dunks to his pre-game outfits, the BBN was enamored with WCS. Getting him in Lexington for three years was a privilege, and I hope this is the year he makes a real impact in the league.” (Maggie Davis).

“The rare three-year, five-star recruit, Willie Cauley-Stein’s highlight video from his time at Kentucky is chalk full of skyrising dunks and erasing blocks. Like the Harrison twins, WCS was a key member of back-to-back Final Four runs (despite the injury against UL in the 2014 tourney), but he also stocked his trophy case. The former wide-receiver earned SEC All-Defense honors twice, was named SEC DPOY and All-SEC in 2014, and was a consensus All-American.” (Zack Geoghegan)

“Did you know he played wide receiver?” (Nick Roush)

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

11 Comments for KSR’s All-Decade UK Basketball Team



  1. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    10:35 pm January 1, 2020 Permalink

    Doron Lamb deserves to be on the list more than any of the second team guards.



  2. kuhlkat
    2:01 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

    Goosebumps!,,
    And I love when Willie murdered the UC player!



  3. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    5:37 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

    Also, WCS was a four star recruit.



    • 4everUKBlue
      9:23 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

      What’s your point? Are we evaluating players based solely on whether or not they were a 5 star or not?



    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:29 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

      My point is the article said he was a five star recruit and he was a four star recruit. It has nothing to do with evaluation, but just facts.



  4. bigblue2018
    5:40 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

    I loved WCS but no way do I put him ahead of Patterson, Jones or Miller.



  5. Steady
    6:36 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

    Terrence Jones never gets the credit he deserves. Great player.



  6. stl_cat
    10:31 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

    No De’Aaron Fox is a pretty big oversight. He was the best overall player on that team despite Monk’s huge games here and there.

    Fox is more deserving than Knight or Aaron Harrison imo, Harrison only gets in because of the 3 clutch tourney shots



    • CrystalBall
      10:56 am January 2, 2020 Permalink

      I agree. How can you not include Fox. Also, I would put Tyler Ulis ahead of Harrison.



    • CrystalBall
      1:08 pm January 2, 2020 Permalink

      Update. Must be having trouble with my Android tablet. Didn’t get complete post at first so didn’t see Tyler Ulis. Think it is working
      ok now, but not sure what else I missed.



  7. catdaddyd
    5:58 pm January 2, 2020 Permalink

    1st team has 2 non shooters. Lamb has to be on 1st team.