The Big Blue Nation mourned the loss of one of its greatest athletes on Tuesday after the news that basketball legend Cotton Nash had died at age 80.
Nash’s passing served as a reminder of the incredible depth of basketball talent that has entertained Kentuckians through the years.
Much of that talent is commemorated in the Rupp Arena rafters.
The most recent addition was, like Nash, a star of the 1960s: Mike Pratt. The former player and longtime UK radio analyst was honored posthumously last season.
Here’s a look at the 39 Kentucky greats who have banners raised in Rupp Arena. If you’re sitting underneath UK’s championship banners, this is the order — clockwise, from top right — that you’d see each former Wildcat.
Hayden — a 5-foot-11 forward (the game was different then) from Bourbon County — was Kentucky’s first All-American in the sport of basketball. He was the Cats’ leading scorer as a sophomore — his first season after transferring from Transylvania — with an average of around 11 points per game. His All-America season came in his junior year, when he helped lead UK to a 13-1 record and a Southern Intercollegiate championship. A knee injury suffered while competing in track and field — Hayden was a multi-sport athlete — limited his play as a senior. He later coached the Cats for one season (a 3-13 campaign in 1926-27) and spent nearly all of his life in central Kentucky, passing away in 2003 in his hometown of Paris at age 103.
Carey — a 6-foot guard from Lexington — played two seasons for the Wildcats after transferring back home from Washington & Lee. He was the captain of the Lexington High School Blue Devils team that won the school’s first national basketball championship in 1921. Carey, who passed away in 1961, was UK’s second All-American, earning that honor after scoring 20 points in 20 games as the team’s point guard during the 1924-25 season.
One of Kentucky’s top all-around athletes of the early 20th century, Spicer was a two-time All-American in basketball and also competed in football, tennis and track and field for the Wildcats. A 6-1 forward on the basketball court, he was a standout quarterback for UK’s football team during his time on campus. Spicer — a Lexington native — has the distinction of being the leading scorer on Adolph Rupp’s first Kentucky squad (1930-31) and the first All-American of the Rupp era. Immediately upon his graduation, Spicer became the head basketball coach at Georgetown College for four seasons. He passed away in 1996 at age 87. (Spicer wore No. 17 for the Cats, but his Rupp banner has only a UK logo).
Sale — a 6-5 post player from Lawrenceburg — was the first Wildcat to earn a national player of the year award, winning that honor after leading Rupp’s 1934 SEC Tournament championship team with 13.8 points per game. “Aggie” Sale — as he was known — was a consensus first-team All-American in each of his final two seasons for the Wildcats. “Whenever (Rupp) mentioned his best players, Aggie Sale was the first player he mentioned,” longtime UK athletics sports information director and program historian Russell Rice said in 1985, when Sale passed away at age 74. Sale was later a high school basketball coach in Kentucky and a five-term state legislator.
DeMoisey — a 6-4 center from Walton — was the big man on some of Rupp’s first Kentucky teams and the Wildcats’ top scorer with 12.5 points per game his senior season, leading UK to a 15-0 record and 11-0 SEC mark before the Cats lost their first game of the league tournament. He was an All-American that season and, according to his 1963 obituary, was credited by Rupp as the first basketball player to use the “one-hand overhead pivot shot” in a game. Nicknamed “Frenchy,” DeMoisey was an avid campaigner for Kentucky Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler — also working in his administration — as well as a basketball referee, even officiating a handful of Kentucky games in the 1940s.
Rouse — a 6-1 guard from Ludlow in Kenton County — averaged 6.1 points per game during his UK career and never more than 8.3 in a season, but he was clearly a favorite of Rupp, who presented Rouse with his full uniform at the annual banquet following his final season — making him the first Wildcat to officially have his jersey retired. Rupp cited “leadership” as the reason for bestowing the unprecedented honor. “Mickey” Rouse was captain of the UK team that won the 1940 SEC championship and an all-conference selection that season, leading the Cats in scoring. He later became a dentist. Rouse passed away in 2012 at age 93.
Beard — a 5-10 guard from Louisville — was one of the leaders during the Wildcats’ epic run of the late 40s. UK accumulated a record of 130-10 in his four seasons with the team, winning Rupp’s first two national championships during that time, along with four SEC titles and an Olympic gold medal in 1948. UK was 39-0 in the SEC and won the league tournament all four years. Beard was a three-time All-American at Kentucky and still sits 15th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,517 points.
An NBA All-Star in his second season as a pro, Beard’s career ended before his third year in the league as a result of the college basketball point-shaving scandal that involved players from Kentucky and other schools. Beard admitted to taking $700 from gamblers but said he never shaved points. He was banned from the NBA for life. When Beard passed away at age 79 in 2007, former teammate Joe B. Hall said the lightning-quick guard would have been an All-American in any era. “His style of play was timeless,” Hall said.
Years: 1944-45, 1946-49
Groza — a 6-7 player from Martins Ferry, Ohio — was drafted into the U.S. Army midway through the 1944-45 season. When he returned to the Cats in 1946, he became one of the program’s all-time greats. Groza was the first UK player to eclipse 1,000 points and still ranks 10th on Kentucky’s all-time scoring list. He won All-American honors in 1947 and 1948 before winning the national player of the year award in 1949, leading the Wildcats in points in each of their first two national championship seasons. He’s also one of only five players in college basketball history to win back-to-back Final Four most outstanding player awards.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 1949 NBA Draft, Groza was the unofficial rookie of the year for the 1949-50 season and a first-team All-NBA selection during his first two years as a pro before being implicated in the college basketball point-shaving scandal. Like Beard, the NBA banned him for life as a result of the scandal. Groza later became the head coach at Bellarmine, and worked as a pro scout and ABA general manager. He passed away in 1995 at age 68.
Years: 1942-43, 1946-48
Rollins — a 6-0 guard from Wickliffe in Ballard County — joined the Navy after one season at Kentucky and returned to the Cats following World War II, becoming the team captain for his final two seasons and a member of the “Fabulous Five” that delivered UK its first national title in 1948. Rollins scored 684 points in 98 games and was known as a great defensive player in his college days. He was the primary defender on Bob Cousy when Kentucky defeated Holy Cross in the 1948 national semifinals in Madison Square Garden. Rollins — like the rest of UK’s “Fab Five” — won Olympic gold at the 1948 Games in London. He passed away at age 89 in 2012.
Barker — a 6-2 guard/forward from Yorktown, Ind. — left UK after his freshman season to join the Army and, upon his return, was another member of the “Fabulous Five” that helped the Cats win the national title in 1948 and 1949, scoring exactly 248 points in each season. Barker served as a gunner on a B-17 bomber during World War II and spent more than a year as a prisoner of war after being shot down over Germany. According to his 1998 obituary in the New York Times, “he filled idle time in prison camp by bouncing and passing a volleyball, the only ball he could find. When he returned to college, his ball-handling skills were remarkable.”
“Wah Wah” Jones — a 6-4 forward from Harlan — is one of the most celebrated athletes from the commonwealth and won a state championship in his senior season. He also played baseball and football — and was a two-time All-SEC selection in the latter — during his time at Kentucky, but he’s best remembered as a member of the “Fabulous Five” and winner of two national titles and an Olympic gold medal. Jones was a first-team All-SEC selection in each of his four seasons at Kentucky and one of UK’s first 1,000-point scorers. He still ranks 46th on the all-time points list. Jones was the third-leading scorer — behind Groza and Beard — on each of Kentucky’s first two championship teams and passed away at age 88 in 2014, the last surviving member of UK’s famed “Fab Five.”
Spivey — a 7-footer from Warner Robins, Ga. — was a fantastic college basketball player and remains one of the biggest “what if?” stories in the sport’s history. His numbers over just two seasons at Kentucky are eye-popping. With 1,213 points, he ranks 39th on the program’s all-time scoring list. Rebounds weren’t recorded as an official stat during his first season, but Spivey grabbed 567 boards in 33 games the next season. More than 70 years later, that remains UK’s single-season record. (For comparison’s sake, Oscar Tshiebwe had 515 rebounds in 34 games last season). Spivey was the national player of the year in 1951 (the first season UK played in Memorial Coliseum) and recorded 22 points and 21 rebounds in the national title game that year, earning the Final Four most outstanding player award in leading Kentucky to its third championship in four years.
He likely would have been a star in the NBA, but Spivey’s career was cut short by the same gambling scandal that involved other UK players. Spivey, however, never admitted to any wrongdoing and was acquitted of perjury charges related to the investigation by a New York court in 1953. Nevertheless he was barred by UK from competing in athletics and banned for life by the NBA. Spivey later won a small settlement against the league, but he spent the rest of his playing days on lower-level squads, and the rest of his life was haunted by the scandal that had effectively ended his basketball career. Spivey passed away in Costa Rica in 1995. He was 66 years old. His jersey was not retired to the Rupp Arena rafters until 2000.
Years: 1950-52, 1953-54
A name that has become synonymous with UK athletics, Hagan — a 6-4 center from Owensboro — won a national title in 1951 and was a consensus first team All-American for the 1951-52 and 1953-54 seasons. Kentucky did not play in 1952-53 due to the earlier point-shaving scandal that had rocked the program. Hagan was the leading scorer on both of those teams in the early ’50s and finished his three-year career with 1,475 points (17th all-time) and 1,035 rebounds (third all-time) in just 77 games. Kentucky had a perfect 25-0 record in the 1953-54 season, but Rupp declined an NCAA Tournament bid due to a stipulation that graduate students could not play in the event. (Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos were all grad students at the time).
Hagan was a five-time All-Star in his 10-year NBA career, then came out of retirement to play three seasons in the ABA, where he was also a head coach. In 1978, Hagan became the first former Kentucky player to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, and he served as UK’s athletics director from 1975 to 1988. Hagan is 91 years old.
Years: 1950-52, 1953-54
Ramsey — a 6-3 guard from Madisonville — played alongside Hagan for those same three seasons and put up similar statistics. His 1,344 points rank 27th on Kentucky’s all-time list, and he’s second with 1,038 total rebounds. (He was first in rebounds and fourth in points when he left UK). Ramsey was an All-American — either second- or third-team — in all three of his seasons with the Wildcats and was selected with the No. 5 overall pick by the Boston Celtics. In the NBA, he was credited as basketball’s first “sixth man” — a superbly skilled player who came off the bench instead of starting the game. Ramsey won seven NBA titles in his nine seasons with Boston. His No. 23 jersey has been retired by the Celtics, and Ramsey was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1982. He passed away in 2018 at age 86.
Years: 1950-52, 1953-54
Another key Wildcat from that 1950-54 run, Tsioropoulos — a 6-5 forward from Lynn, Mass. — scored 709 points over his three-year career and averaged 14.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game playing alongside Hagan and Ramsey for the Wildcats’ undefeated team in 1953-54. He ranks 25th on the school’s all-time rebounding list. Tsioropoulos was also drafted by the Boston Celtics and won two titles with the NBA franchise while playing as a backup to Hall of Fame power forward Tommy Heinsohn. Tsioropoulos was known as a defensive specialist during his time at Kentucky, and he returned to the state as the head coach at DuPont Manual. Tsioropoulos passed away in 2015 at age 84.
Years: 1951-52, 1953-55
Evans — a 6-1 guard from Berea — tallied 716 points and 549 rebounds in three seasons at Kentucky and was the team’s fourth-leading scorer — behind Hagan, Ramsey and Tsioropoulos — on the undefeated 1953-54 squad. Evans was a talented player who accepted a team-first role while playing alongside other greats, and the Wildcats achieved a 77-6 record in his three seasons at the varsity level. He also played baseball and tennis at UK and later won an Olympic gold medal in basketball at the 1956 Games in Australia. Evans passed away in 2020 at age 88.
Years: 1951-52, 1953-55
Rose — a 6-0 guard from Carter County who finished his prep career at Paris High — was the starting point guard for Kentucky’s undefeated 1953-54 team and wrapped up his UK career with 443 points over three seasons. After serving in the military, Rose returned to Lexington as a student at the UK College of Pharmacy and ultimately spent more than three decades as a pharmacist in Olive Hill. He passed away in 2016 at age 84.
Bird — a 6-6 forward from Corbin — played just four games for the undefeated 1953-54 team but averaged a double-double in each of his other two seasons at Kentucky, with 16.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a senior. In an NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa that season, Bird grabbed 24 rebounds, which still stands as the school record in a postseason game. All three of Bird’s brothers — Calvin, Rodger and Billy — played football for Kentucky. Jerry Bird passed away in 2017 at age 83.
Grawemeyer — a 6-7 forward from Louisville — was the leading bench scorer on the undefeated 1953-54 team and ended up with 626 points and 703 rebounds over his three-year career. He remains 24th on the school’s all-time rebounding list and was a pitcher for the UK baseball team during his time on campus. Nicknamed “Cookie,” he was a 10th-round pick by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1956 — and was also a Major League Baseball draft pick — but he never played professional sports. Grawemeyer passed away in 2008 at age 73.
Burrow — a 6-7 center from Arkansas who finished high school in Wells, Texas — transferred to Kentucky from Lon Morris Junior College and played just two seasons for the Wildcats, but he put up some major stats during his time on campus. Burrow led the team in scoring and rebounding in both seasons at Kentucky, finishing with 1,023 points and 823 rebounds over that time. Among UK players who played just two seasons for the Wildcats, he’s currently fourth in points and first in rebounds. Burrow shares the school’s single-game rebounding record (34) with Bill Spivey. After a brief pro career, Burrow returned to Kentucky and spent nearly four decades as an educator for Fort Knox schools, retiring as superintendent in 1997. Burrow passed away in 2019 at age 84.
Hatton — a 6-3 guard from Lexington — was the first winner of the Kentucky Mr. Basketball award following a standout career at Lafayette High School that included a state title during his junior year. In three seasons at Kentucky, he tallied 1,153 points and was the leading scorer on the Wildcats’ 1958 national championship team. Hatton scored 30 points in UK’s 84-72 victory over Elgin Baylor and Seattle University in the 1958 title game, and he was also a first-team All-American that season. Hatton’s 47-foot shot with one second left in overtime — in an eventual 3OT win over Temple — is regarded as one of the biggest shots in school history. The Cincinnati Royals selected Hatton with the No. 9 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft, and he played a total of four seasons in the league. Hatton is 87 years old.
Cox — a 6-4 forward from Hazard — earned All-American consideration in his first season at Kentucky, was the second-leading scorer on the Cats’ 1958 title team and then was honored as a consensus first-team All-American following the 1958-59 season. Cox finished his UK career with 1,461 points and 1,004 rebounds — one of only four Wildcats to ever eclipse the 1,000 mark on rebounds. He was also consistent from the start on the boards. Each of his three seasons is included among the top 30 all-time single-season rebounding marks at Kentucky. Cox led Hazard High to the 1955 state championship. He is 86 years old.
Nash — a 6-5 forward born in Jersey City, N.J. — earned consensus second-team All-American honors in each of his first two seasons at Kentucky before becoming a consensus first-team All-American as a senior, leading the Cats in scoring all three years. He had 1,770 points for his career and was the program’s all-time leading scorer by the time he left campus. Nash remains ninth on that list and is fifth all-time in rebounding. He’s also one of only three UK players to grab 30 or more rebounds in a single game and the only Wildcat to achieve that feat twice. Nash played one season in the NBA and one season in the ABA, and — a baseball player at UK — he also appeared in a total of 13 games for the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. According to Baseball-Almanac.com, Nash is one of just 13 players to play in both the NBA and Major League Baseball. “Looking back on it, I’m not real sure how I did it,” he told the Herald-Leader in 2020. “I never had an offseason. I went consistently from one sport to the next with no off days.” After retiring from pro sports in 1972, Nash returned to Lexington. He died May 23, 2023, at age 80.
Dampier — a 6-0 guard from Indianapolis — was a consensus second-team All-American and led the Wildcats in scoring in two of his three seasons at Kentucky. He was the second-leading scorer (with 21.1 points per game) on the “Rupp’s Runts” squad that entered the 1966 NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 and lost in the national title game to Texas Western. Dampier finished his Kentucky career with 1,575 points, which is 12th on the all-time list. He’s also 12th on the all-time free-throw percentage list at 83.4 percent.
Outside of the commonwealth, Dampier is known as one of the greatest players in ABA history. In fact, he’s the all-time leading scorer in that league, finishing with 13,726 points during a nine-year career with the Kentucky Colonels that included an ABA title in 1975. Dampier later played three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2015, the fifth and most recent former UK player to earn that honor. Dampier is 78 years old.
Riley — a 6-4 forward from Schenectady, N.Y. — is one of the most famous names in basketball, but before he made waves in the NBA, he was a star player at Kentucky. Riley was the leading scorer on the “Rupp’s Runts” team that lost in the 1966 NCAA title game and finished his UK career with 1,464 points, which is 18th on the all-time list. He’s also 26th all-time with 672 rebounds. Riley played nine seasons in the NBA — winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972 — and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2008, primarily due to his record as a coach. Riley won four NBA championships from 1982 to 1988 while presiding over the “Showtime” era of the Lakers and the team’s young star, Magic Johnson. He later won a fifth title as head coach of the Miami Heat in 2006 and helped build two additional NBA championship teams in Miami in 2012 and 2013. Riley is 77 years old and is still president of the Miami Heat.
It had been eight years since a Kentucky basketball player’s jersey was added to the rafters of Rupp Arena before Pratt achieved that honor on Feb. 4, 2023.
Pratt helped lead the Wildcats to three Southeastern Conference championships and finished his career as a top player on a Kentucky squad that was ranked No. 1 nationally in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll of the 1969-70 season.
He left UK with his name in the top 10 on the all-time points, rebounds and assists lists, and he remains one of only two former Cats to be ranked in the top 30 in all three categories.
The rebounding stat is especially impressive, given Pratt’s 6-foot-4 size. With 718 rebounds, he was eighth in program history by the time he left UK and remains 23rd on that list. Pratt also played only three seasons, while 10 of the 22 players ahead of him played four or more.
Three decades after his college career ended, Pratt returned to Kentucky as the team’s radio analyst, a job he held for 21 seasons until his death at age 73 last June.
Pratt’s jersey retirement ceremony was the first for a UK player since Tony Delk’s No. 00 joined the Rupp rafters in 2015.
His jersey was placed in the rafters next to teammate and friend Dan Issel.
“I cannot be prouder that he’s right up there next to me,” Issel said, pointing toward the two blue and white banners. “I love it. I love it!”
Issel — a 6-9 center from Batavia, Ill. — remains Kentucky’s all-time leader in scoring and rebounding more than five decades after his college career ended. He was a consensus first-team All-American in 1970, the end of a three-year run that included a 71-12 record for the Wildcats and, so far, untouchable individual numbers for Issel: 2,138 points and 1,078 rebounds in just 83 games. He has four of the 10 highest-scoring games in UK history, and his record of 53 points held for 39 years before Jodie Meeks scored 54 in 2009. He’s also the only Kentucky player with 24 or more rebounds in a game on three different occasions. Issel and the Cats finished the 1969-70 season ranked No. 1 before losing to Jacksonville (and future ABA teammate Artis Gilmore) in the NCAA Tournament.
Issel played five seasons with the Kentucky Colonels — he’s the ABA’s second-leading scorer behind Dampier — and another 10 seasons with the Denver franchise in the ABA and NBA. He still ranks 12th on the all-time NBA/ABA combined scoring list. Issel later coached the Denver Nuggets. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1993 and currently co-hosts a daily radio show on ESPN 680 in Louisville. Issel is 74 years old.
Grevey — a 6-5 forward from Hamilton, Ohio — was named the SEC player of the year in his first and third seasons at Kentucky, a star for Joe B. Hall’s first three years as head coach, and he remains one of the program’s leading scorers. Grevey’s 1,801 points rank seventh all-time on the UK list. He led the Cats with 23.6 points per game as a senior and took Kentucky all the way to the 1975 national championship game, where UK lost to UCLA in John Wooden’s final game as a college coach. Grevey was selected with the No. 18 pick in that year’s NBA Draft and spent eight seasons with the Washington Bullets, winning the franchise’s only NBA title in 1978. He also played two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. Grevey has worked as an NBA scout and a college basketball analyst for Westwood One Radio Network. He’s 69 years old.
Givens — a 6-4 forward from Lexington — remains one of the most beloved figures in UK basketball history and is the program’s all-time leading scorer among Kentucky natives. After earning Mr. Basketball honors at Bryan Station High School in 1974, Givens stayed home to play for UK and some of Joe B. Hall’s first Wildcats teams. A role player and fourth-leading scorer for the 1975 national runner-up squad as a freshman, “Goose” led the Cats in scoring in each of the next three seasons and finished his career with 2,038 points (third all-time). He joins Mike Pratt as the only UK player to be included in the top 30 in points, rebounds and assists. Of course, he’s best known for leading the Wildcats to the 1978 national championship — the program’s first NCAA crown in two decades — and scoring 41 points in the title game against Duke. Givens was the No. 16 pick in the 1978 NBA Draft and played two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. He is currently the radio analyst for Kentucky basketball games. Givens is 66 years old.
Robey — a 6-10 post player from New Orleans — was a high school All-American and Mr. Basketball in the state of Louisiana before a standout career with the Wildcats, earning multiple first-team All-American honors his senior season. Robey finished his time at UK with 1,395 points (23rd in program history) and 838 rebounds (ninth all-time). Of the 56 former UK players with 400 or more made baskets, Robey was third in all-time field-goal percentage (58.1 percent) behind only Melvin Turpin and Patrick Patterson. He was the second-leading scorer (behind Givens) and the leading rebounder for Kentucky’s 1978 title team, the only Wildcat to join Givens as an All-Final Four selection that year. Robey was selected with the No. 3 pick in the 1978 NBA Draft and played eight seasons in the league, winning an NBA title in 1981 with the Boston Celtics. Robey returned to the Louisville area after his pro career. He’s 67 years old.
Macy — a 6-3 guard from Peru, Ind. — was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1975 and started his college career at Purdue, averaging 13.8 points per game as a freshman for the Boilermakers before transferring to Kentucky and sitting out the 1976-77 season. He was the team’s third-leading scorer — behind Givens and Robey — as a sophomore on the 1978 title team and led the Wildcats in points the next two years. In three seasons at Kentucky, he finished with 1,411 points (21st on the all-time list) and 470 assists, the sixth-most in program history. His career free-throw mark of 89.0 percent stood as the UK record until it was surpassed by Jodie Meeks, Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley on more recent Kentucky teams. Macy was a consensus first-team All-American and SEC player of the year in 1980, selected with the No. 22 pick in that year’s draft. He played seven seasons in the league and later became the head coach at Morehead State for nine seasons. He is 65 years old
Years: 1979-81, 1983-84
Bowie — a 7-1 center from Lebanon, Pa. — was a McDonald’s All-American and a star player for his first two years at Kentucky but suffered a stress fracture in his left leg that ultimately led him to miss the following two seasons. He returned to the court for the 1983-84 campaign, averaging 10.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game — alongside fellow big men Melvin Turpin and Kenny Walker — to help lead the Cats to the Final Four. He ranks 30th in points (1,285), eighth in rebounds (843) and fourth in blocked shots (218) on UK’s all-time lists. Bowie was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft and played 10 seasons in the league. He later returned to Lexington and was formerly the radio analyst for UK basketball games. He is 61 years old.
Walker — a 6-8 forward from Roberta, Ga. — was Georgia’s Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American in 1982 before becoming one of the greatest players in UK history. Walker was the second-leading scorer on the Cats’ 1984 Final Four team as a sophomore, a consensus second-team All-American his junior year and a consensus first-team All-American as a senior. He is second on Kentucky’s all-time scoring list with 2,080 points, sixth on the all-time rebounding list with 942 boards and 17th with 122 blocked shots. He’s also UK’s all-time leader with 550 made free throws and shot 75.0 percent from the line. Famously nicknamed “Sky” Walker, he went No. 5 overall in the 1986 draft and later won the 1989 NBA dunk contest. Walker lives in Lexington and has been a fixture on sports talk radio for the past two decades. He is 58 years old.
Woods — a 6-2 guard from Indianapolis — was one of four “Unforgettables” for Kentucky basketball, the players that stuck with the program through two years of probation stemming from a scandal in the 1980s and helped revitalize the Wildcats at the beginning of the Rick Pitino era. Woods scored 794 points in his three-year career and dished out 482 assists (fifth in UK history) as a floor leader for those early Pitino teams. His unbelievable shot to give the Cats a one-point lead over Duke with 2.1 seconds left in the 1992 Elite Eight game is one of the most memorable in program history. Woods has been a college coach for the past two decades and is currently the head coach at Southern University. He is 52 years old.
Feldhaus — a 6-7 forward from Maysville — is the son of former UK player Allen Feldhaus and was a high school standout at Mason County before coming to Lexington. Feldhaus started 27 games as a sophomore and was effectively the sixth man for the “Unforgettables,” primarily coming off the bench in his last two seasons. Feldhaus finished with 1,232 points (37th all-time) and was a 37.5-percent three-point shooter at Kentucky. He is 54 years old and last year joined the Mason County basketball staff as an assistant coach.
Pelphrey — a 6-7 forward from Paintsville — was Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 1987 and became the leading scorer of the four “Unforgettables” — tallying 1,257 points over his four seasons. Pelphrey was an All-SEC first-team selection and led the Wildcats in scoring as a junior. He’s also 13th on Kentucky’s list of assists leaders with 327 for his career. Pelphrey averaged 19.0 points per game and went 26-for-41 from the field (making all 15 of his free-throw attempts) during Kentucky’s 1992 NCAA Tournament run. He was an assistant coach under Billy Donovan for eight seasons and was head coach at South Alabama and Arkansas after that. Pelphrey is 54 years old and currently in his fourth season as head coach at Tennessee Tech.
Farmer — a 6-0 guard from Manchester, Ky. — is a Kentucky basketball folk hero. He was a high school sensation for Clay County, beating Ballard in the 1987 Sweet Sixteen title game before losing to the Louisville school with the 1988 state championship on the line. Farmer was named the Sweet Sixteen MVP both years and was Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 1988. He was a key player over his final three seasons with the Wildcats — and a major fan favorite throughout his career — finishing with 898 career points. Farmer was later the state’s agriculture commissioner for eight years. He is 53 years old.
Mashburn — a 6-8 forward from Bronx, N.Y. — is one of the most celebrated players in program history. The top high school player in New York in 1990, he was a coveted national recruit and the first major commitment in the Pitino era. He later led a renaissance of Kentucky basketball and helped the program quickly recover from probation, cementing his legacy as one of the Wildcats’ saviors at that pivotal point in the early 1990s. Mashburn had 28 points and 10 rebounds against Duke in the 1992 Elite Eight game, leading the Cats in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore that season. He was SEC player of the year and a consensus first-team All-American as a junior, leading Kentucky to the Final Four, the program’s first in nine years.
“Monster Mash” is sixth on UK’s all-time scoring list with 1,843 points and second-highest on that list behind Issel among players who played fewer than four seasons. Mashburn was the No. 4 pick as an early entry in the 1994 NBA Draft and spent 12 years in the league, making the All-Star team for the first and only time during his 10th season. He became a highly successful businessman after his playing career and has also worked as a basketball broadcaster. He is 50 years old.
Delk — a 6-1 guard from Brownsville, Tenn. — was a McDonald’s All-American in 1992 and a role player on UK’s 1993 Final Four team as a freshman before leading the Wildcats in scoring over each of the next three seasons. As a senior, Delk was a consensus first-team All-American and ultimately earned the Final Four most outstanding player honor after leading Kentucky to the 1996 national championship, the school’s first NCAA title in 18 years. In his final game as a UK player, Delk made seven three-pointers and scored 24 points to lift Kentucky past Syracuse for the championship. He’s fifth in program history with 1,890 points and is the school’s all-time leader with 283 made threes, a 39.8 percent shooter from long range. He’s second (behind Wayne Turner) on the UK all-time steals list with 201.
Delk was the No. 16 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and played 10 years in the league. He’s been active in basketball since his playing career ended, working as a coach, an analyst and an NBA scout. Delk turned 49 years old on Jan. 28 and is the most recent UK player to have a jersey retired in the Rupp Arena rafters.
Other Kentucky greats
Six other banners are hanging from the Rupp Arena rafters to honor figures from Kentucky basketball’s past.
Every former UK head coach who led the Wildcats to a national championship is recognized: Adolph Rupp (1930-72), Joe B. Hall (1972-85), Rick Pitino (1989-97) and Tubby Smith (1997-2007). Rupp won four national titles during his 42 seasons at Kentucky and is viewed as the architect of UK basketball. The other three head coaches won one NCAA championship apiece (and Hall was an assistant coach under Rupp for seven seasons, while Smith was an assistant under Pitino for two years).
Next in line is a banner honoring Bill Keightley, who started working as an equipment manager for the Wildcats in 1962 and held that position until his death in March 2008. Keightley — known as “Mr. Wildcat” — was a beloved figure for Kentucky basketball fans and became a face of the program across different eras, working under every head coach from Rupp to Billy Gillispie.
And the final banner hanging in Rupp honors Cawood Ledford, the Harlan native who started calling UK games on the radio in 1953 and continued to do so until his retirement in 1992. Ledford was the voice of the Wildcats for generations of Kentucky fans, one of the most revered figures in the history of the program and a nationally respected broadcaster. He passed away in 2001.