Which Kentucky basketball player would you want to fill these roles

It’s hard to go against Oscar Tshiebwe for the Kentucky player you believe would be most likely to get a rebound. (Photo by Vicky Graff)

Matt Sak is host of Courtside Connect Podcast and a Kentucky basketball fan. I don’t know him personally but a post he had on Twitter Tuesday certainly caught my attention and I am guessing you might like it also.

Sak noted Kentucky fans “need something fun” and asked UK fans to pick one former Wildcat that you need to:

— Get a bucket.

— Get a defensive stop.

— Make a 3-pointer.

— Get a rebound.

— Make two free throws.

— Go for 30 points in a game.

Sak suggested that UK fans should pick a different player for each category and he made his picks, in order of the categories: Brandon Knight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb, Oscar Tshiebwe, Immanuel Quickley, Malik Monk.

Another UK fan and occasional vaughtsviews.com contributor, Dustin Cordell, quickly posted his answers: John Wall, DeAndre Liggins, Doron Lamb,  Julius Randle, Tyler Herro, Malik Monk or Jamal Murray.

All their answers are great because there are no right or wrong answers here. Just your opinion and there are a lot of great choices for every category.

Hard to go wrong with Tshiebwe if you need a rebound after he pulled off rebounds like no UK player had done in over 50 years. And obviously both Sak and Cordell thought Lamb, a starter on UK’s 2012 national championship team, was money from 3.

I am a “bit” older than both Sak and Cordell so I thought I just try to go back in time a bit more for my answers just to add some perspective from former UK greats.

So here we go.

Get a bucket  — Give me Melvin Turpin, one of the most under appreciated players ever to play at Kentucky. He scored 1,509 points along with 730 rebounds and 226 blocked shots. But get this — he was a career 59 percent shooter and shot a combined 60 percent from the field his last two seasons on nearly 700 shot attempts. So if I need a basket, I am throwing the ball to Turpin.

Get a defensive stop — My pick is guard Larry Johnson, one of the first African-American players to play at UK. He was at Kentucky from 1973-77, a time when steals were not really a statistic that a lot of schools kept. But he could apply relentless pressure on opposing guards. He was long, quick and athletic. Johnson did not get beat one-on-one very often.

Make a 3-pointer — This is the hardest one to go back on because there was not a 3-point line for so long. I still think Jay Shidler is perhaps the best shooter I watched at UK but Derrick Miller could also fill the basket from long range. So could Jim Master. So going back in time, I would take any of that trio to take a 3 with the game on the line.

Get a rebound — I have a split decision here with Kenny Walker and Rick Robey. No, they were not the prolific rebounder that Tshiebwe was and did not have the double-doubles like Randle. But with the game on the line and UK needing a rebound, both were terrific. Kenny “Sky” Walker could really jump out of the gym and Rick Robey was one of the toughest, most physical players to play at UK. If I needed a rebound to win a game, give me one of those two.

Make two free throws — It has to be former All-American Kyle Macy. He was an 89 percent free throw shooter in his three years at Kentucky when he made 331 of 372 free throws. His senior season he hit 91.2 percent and in UK’s 1978 national championship season he hit 89.1 percent.

Go for 30 points in a game — Again this one is easy. It has to be former All-American Dan Issel, Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer with 2,138 points. His senior year (1969-70) he AVERAGED 33.9 points per game and scored 948 points in 28 games. So getting 30 or more points in a game is what he did regularly.

14 Responses

  1. Since I’m old, my picks may go back a little bit

    — Get a bucket.
    Dan Issel or Melvin Turpin

    — Get a defensive stop.
    DeAndre Liggins or Willie Cauley Stein

    — Make a 3-pointer.
    Louie Dampier (No better outside shooter at UK ever), Tony Delk

    — Get a rebound.
    Oscar Tshiebwe

    — Make two free throws.
    Kyle Macey

    — Go for 30 points in a game.
    Dan Issel

  2. Karl Anthony Townes , tayshaun prince , Travis Ford, Cameron mills kevin grevey Bob burrow was wah jones..etc etc uk has been blessed.

  3. You are right, that is what we need about now to clear our minds. Well, it didn’t exactly clear mine – I started my list in 1976 (the first year that I have a really clear memory of UK players) and made it to 1992 before decided it was futile.
    I had about 30 players to fill those 6 spots (and maybe a couple of more positions that I felt should be added to the list too).
    So, I gave up – I would spend the next 3 days arguing with myself, get out a spread sheet, separate it into coaching tenures, and…. eh, it’s safe to say we have plenty of players to fill each position and beat anyone who wanted to make a team against them! I will save my pencil lead for another day.

    How about favorites instead?
    They aren’t all All Stars. Some combination of energy, effort, guts, and personality?

    Late 1970’s. Jack Givens, Jay Shidler, Dwight Anderson
    Early- Mid 80’s Kenny Walker, Bennett, Charles Hurt, and Chris Gettlefinger
    Early 90’s Mashburn, Ford, and …. well, all of them
    Late 90’s Jeff Sheppard, Derek Anderson, Tony Delk
    Tubby’s early era Bogans, Fitch, and Hawkins
    Tubby’s late era Crawford, Sparks, Meeks, Legion
    Cal’s early era Miller, Liggins, Harrelson, Polson
    Cal’s mid era Aaron Harrison, Hawkins, Ulis, SGA
    Cal’s lately Washington, Richards, Quickley, Grady, Oscar

    Then my all time "what the heck was that?!" List:
    Fred Cowan, Rod Rhodes, Terrence Jones, Hamidou Diallo, and Keion Brooks!

    1. Seems like travis Ford should be a runaway for 3 pointer. No one in the history of college basketball has shot 191 3 point attempts at an incredible 52.9% success rate for a season. Not even close!

  4. New question. Best team to not win the championship during each (major) coach’s era.
    Or, in other words, who was the best team in the nation who failed to prove it with a NC (for each major coaching ear)?

    1. Rupp: I wasn’t around but seems the 1954 team that was 25-0 is clearly the best Rupp team not to win a NC in some NCAA conspiracy to disqualify his leaders due to graduation dates.

      Hall: this one is tough because my first memory of UK BB is the 1975 team. Everyone around me said the refs gifted the NC title game to Wooden as a retirement gift, but I was only 7 years old, so couldn’t really form my own opinion.
      However, I was fully expecting the 1977 team to win it all and was certain they were the better team if it had not been for the Dean Smith "I am too scared to play you" 4 corner stall ball. Still gets under my skin. I would have hated to be a UNC fan at that time – it must have felt like cheap, unearned wins.

      But 1984 takes the Joe Hall cake. There is no way a team that good can play a half that good and follow it up with a 2nd half of only 11 points. How is that possible?
      Bowie, Turpin, Walker, Master, Bennett, Beal, Blackmon, Harden. What a team.
      That was Hall’s downfall – after that, everything he did was judged through a different lens. Most people in extreme western Ky were certain he was paid to throw the game.

      Pitino: I fully expected the 1993 team to win it all. It had all of the ingredients: an exceptional shooting/passing point guard, a good shot blocking, running big man, wings who could shoot from deep, including an unstoppable one on one Mashburn; unbelievable defense with defensive stoppers in Brown and Braddy; and a deep deep bench.
      At the end of the Michigan Final Four game, the offense was "give the ball to Mashburn and get out of the way"….. but then, he fouled out.

      1995: could have won it all if not for an uncontrollable, inconsistent Rhodes. Pitino could not seem to stop him from shooting jump shots instead of driving the lane where he excelled. He shot us out of the Elite 8 against Jerry Stackhouse’s UNC. This time Dean Smith wasn’t there, but they did slow us down a whole lot.

      1997: no doubt, the whole team looked head and shoulders above all of CBB until Derek Anderson went down. They fell to a good Arizona team in the NC Title game, but UK was still the best team, even without Anderson.
      How does an opponent get 41 trips to the foul line in a NC game?? 4 of our players fouled out! But even after that, Nazi going 0-6 at the foul line was the difference in the game.

      I will pick 1997 with Anderson in the lineup as Pitino’s best without a NC.
      But without Anderson in the lineup, it is a 3 way tie to me – the 1993, 1995, and 1997 teams were all equally great and capable of winning it all in a slightly alternate universe.

      Tubby: the 2003 team had everything it needed to win it all and then some. Fitch, Daniels, Estill, Bogans, Hayes, Hawkins, Camara, Azubuike.
      If not for a brick wall named Dwayne Wade in the Elite 8 vs. Marquette, Tubby would have 2 NC’s.
      That night we got a glimpse of the future NBA superstar as he burned us for 29 pts, 11 reb, 11 assists, 4 blocks, 69% FG, 2 of 2 3PA’s, 5 of 6 FT’s. No one could have stopped him that night.
      But such was the story of Tubby’s teams. Always what could have been.

      Cal: the 2015 is the obvious answer. Not only the most talented Calipari team to fall short, but maybe the most talented CBB team ever to not win a championship.

      But don’t forget, the 2010 Wall, Cousins, Patterson and the 2017 Monk, Fox, Adebayo teams had everything needed to win it all, except, of course, the 6 games in a row it actually takes to do it.

  5. — Get a bucket. Tyler ulis

    — Get a defensive stop. Anthony davis

    — Make a 3-pointer. Aaron Harrison

    — Get a rebound. oscar

    — Make two free throws. Derrick Anderson

    — Go for 30 points in a game. Malik Monk

    Tried to stay with players most people will know about as a lot of those people weren’t around to watch. Great picks tho

  6. Get a bucket
    Dan Issel or Jamal Mashburn

    Get a defensive stop.
    Wayne Turner or DeAndre Liggins

    Make a 3-pointer.
    Louie Dampier or Doron Lamb

    Get a rebound.
    Oscar Tshiebwe or Cotton Nash

    Make two free throws.
    Kyle Macy or Tyler Herro

    Go for 30 points in a game.
    Dan Issel or Jodie Meeks

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