Now that the UK basketball season has been put to bed, and we all immediately begin to turn our thoughts towards “next year,” I can’t help but “think back”. Tyler Ulis turned in one of the best seasons in the grand history of Kentucky basketball. It has a lot of us asking, was he the best point guard ever at UK?
With that question in mind, we decided to put our crack research staff to work to come up with the Kentucky Wildcats best starting five. We’re going small on the second team, and going big on the first team. You can agree, disagree, debate, whatever, but isn’t this what we do in the BBN?
Center – Alex Groza: Groza’s UK career is filled with accolades – National player of the year, All-American, Final Four MVP twice, and All-SEC. As captain of the “Fabulous Five”, the Wildcats won the 1948 NCAA title and then as a unit won the Olympic Gold Medal. His #15 jersey has been retired to the rafters of Rupp Arena.
Forward – Kevin Grevey: He averaged over 21 points a game during his 3 year UK career which ranks 7th on the all-time career scoring list, was an All-American, and was named the SEC Player of the year twice, His #35 jersey hangs in Rupp Arena.
Forward – Jack Givens: “Goose” ranks 3rd on Kentucky’s career scoring list as one of only 3 players to score over 2000 points in his UK career. He was named All-American, All-SEC, Final Four MVP, and historically scored 41 points in the 1978 NCAA championship game against Duke. His #21 jersey has been retired.
Guard – Kyle Macy: We’re going with two points guards on our second team. Macy is remembered as one of the most beloved Cats of all-time. Macy was named All-American, All-SEC, SEC Player of the Year, and was the point guard on the Cats 1978 National Championship team. His #4 jersey proudly hangs in the rafters at Rupp Arena.
Guard – John Wall: Wall almost single-handily restored the excitement in UK basketball when he appeared at Big Blue Madness and debuted the “John Wall Dance”. Wall went on to become UK’s first #1 overall NBA draft pick. He was named the Player of the Year, National Freshman of the year, All-American, and SEC Player of the year.
Center – Anthony Davis: Davis not only turned in the best freshman season in the history of college basketball in 2012, he also turned in one of the best seasons in the history of college basketball - national & SEC player of the year, national & SEC freshman of the year, national & SEC defensive player of the year, NCAA & SEC champion, Final Four MVP, #1 draft pick, Olympic gold medalist. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but rumor has it that Davis took the 5th most shots on the UK team that year (I’m looking at you Coach Cal).
Forward – Dan Issel: Kentucky’s career scoring leader while only playing 3 seasons and never more than 28 games in a season. His career scoring average on 25.8 points & 13 rebounds per game and mind boggling. He was an All-American, his #44 jersey is retired to the rafters of Rupp Arena, and he’s in the NBA, UK & state of Kentucky Hall of Fame.
Forward – Kenny Walker: “Sky” left as Kentucky’s 2nd career scoring leader, All-American, SEC Player of the Year twice, and has his #34 jersey retired at UK. He was the 5th overall draft pick in the 1986 NBA draft, and he’s in the UK and state of Kentucky Hall of Fame.
Forward – Jamal Mashburn: Yes, we are going with a big lineup here. We’re just gonna make Mash a huge two-guard in our top 5. In only 3 seasons, he still ranks 6th on UK’s all-time scoring list and would have easily smashed the record if he had stayed for a 4th season. Mash was also a 2-time All-American, SEC player of the year, drafted #4 overall in the 1993 NBA draft, has his #24 jersey retired, and was enshrined to the UK and state of Kentucky Hall of Fame.
Guard – Tyler Ulis: BBN is going to debate this for centuries, but you can’t argue against stats. Ulis broke John Wall’s single season assist record that many thought would never be broken, he was 1st team All-American, the SEC player of the year, the SEC defensive player of the year, and won the hearts of UK fans of all ages with his leadership, effort, personality, and incredible play on both ends of the court.