A Kentucky basketball legend has passed away.
Billy Evans, a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, died at the age of 88 on Sunday. The University of Kentucky announced the news Monday evening.
Evans, who lettered at Kentucky for three seasons (1952, 1954-55) under legendary head coach Adolph Rupp, was one of the starters on UK’s undefeated 1953-54 team.
He also played baseball and tennis at Kentucky.
“Billy Evans is among the great players from our commonwealth who helped build the tradition of University of Kentucky basketball,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. “His legacy as an all-around athlete and a winner always will be part of our history. Our condolences are with his wife, Nancy, and his family and friends.”
The Berea, Kentucky, native scored 716 career points at the varsity level to go along with 549 rebounds in 83 career games.
Playing alongside other Hall of Famers like Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos, Evans averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in his final season at Kentucky, earning All-Southeastern Third Team honors by the Associated Press.
In a recent oral history interview with the University of Kentucky, the former fan favorite said he was grateful to play basketball for a legendary coach like Rupp on some of the most memorable and successful teams in school history.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t put me in the same boat with Hagan and Ramsey, who were All-Americans, but life was all better for me for having played basketball there,” Evans said.
Kentucky finished with a 77-6 overall record in the three years Evans suited up, including a 25-0 record during the 1953-54 season. The Wildcats were named national champions in 1954 by the Helms Foundation, one of two Helms titles the Wildcats claim (1933). UK won SEC titles in all three seasons Evans lettered.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 1955 NBA Draft by the Rochester Royals, Evans also went on to win a gold medal for the U.S. in the 1956 Olympics and the 1959 Pan American Games. He was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in the charter class and his jersey hangs in the Rupp Arena rafters.
“It’s special,” Evans said of his jersey retirement. “I don’t go around to everybody and say, ‘Look up there,’ but it’s an honor. I’m happy to be there.”
He was also inducted into the State of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.
Evans is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his two daughters, Sallie Coryell and Allison Scanlan.
Rest in peace to a Kentucky basketball legend.