This guy should have been the scoring champ at UK. No, seriously.
2,138 points. That is gold standard for scoring in UK basketball history. Dan Issel has held that record for 45 years now with only 2 players cracking 2,000 points since. Overlooking the fact that Issel did that in 3 seasons without a 3-point shot (although that should NEVER be overlooked), you have to wonder if Issel’s scoring record will ever be touched. I argue no for several reasons:
1. THAT’S A TON OF POINTS
-Kenny Walker played 4 seasons, never missed a game, was in the Top 6 of the UK rotation every year, and started for 3 years. And he only got within 58 points of Issel. With an extra season of play. Keith Bogans played and STARTED all 4 years, with a 3-point shot, played more games per season than Issel, and only got within 215 points of Issel. Point is, it just requires an amazing amount of scoring to reach the record.
2. THE GAME IS SLOWER AND SCORING IS DOWN
-It seems counter to what we believe because the players are so much more athletic today than in the 1960’s, but the truth is there are fewer shots taken and lower scoring games now than during Issel’s time. During Issel’s senior season (1969-70), his team averaged 96 POINTS PER GAME. In UK’s national title season of 2012, a team that was fantastic on offense most of the season, the team averaged 77.3 points per game. The fact is, teams just don’t get up and down the floor for 40 minutes the way they did in the late 60’s.
3. GREAT PLAYERS DON‘T STAY 4 YEARS
-You give me 1 reason Issel’s record is safe forever, it’s this one. As long as the NBA doesn’t require a player to stay 4 years in college, no player good enough to score enough points to beat Issel will ever stay 4 years. Patrick Patterson actually had a legitimate shot to beat the record if he had stayed his senior year, but let’s not forget that never really was a possibility. And in fact, Patterson strongly considered leaving after his sophomore season, so we got a bonus year anyway. If Brandon Knight had stayed 3 years, and scored the same amount of points each season, he would have finished with 1,971 points. So the point is not that a player couldn’t conceivably score enough in 4 years, it’s that no player is going to hang around for 4 years to do it.
The guy that really had an amazing shot to beat the record was KEITH BOGANS. As ridiculous as it sound, Bogans’s junior year ruined any chance he had to break the record. But even with that disasterous year, Bogans finished 4th all-time in scoring at UK. He scored 371 in that junior year, while scoring 577 in his sophomore and 564 his senior year. If Bogans had replicated either of those scoring years in his junior season, he would have come within 10 points of Issel. And I would imagine if Bogans was approaching that record his senior season, Tubby and the guys would have made sure he broke it. Again, Keith Bogans should have been the scoring champ at UK.
PUT HIS JERSEY IN THE RAFTERS PLEASE!!!!
That’s a post for another day. Today, discuss whether you can envision Issel’s record ever being broken. I say no, but tell me what you think.