Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Post Players in Wildcats History
Kentucky basketball has been known recently for its string of point guards coming through the program.
However, it's the presence in the post that has helped key the successful run for John Calipari and his predecessors in Lexington.
Much like the size of Rupp Arena is intimidating to opponents, the rebounding and blocked shots while controlling the paint has helped the Wildcats become the winningest program in NCAA Division I history.
This list will breakdown the five best post players in Kentucky's storied history.
5. DeMarcus Cousins (2009-10)
DeMarcus Cousins may have only been in Lexington for one year, but he was dominant during his time. Often overlooked due to playing alongside John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, Cousins was a key player on Calipari's first team at Kentucky.
The Alabama native averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in only 23 minutes of action. To say he was effective is an understatement.
Cousins helped lead Kentucky to the No. 1 overall seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and a run to the Elite Eight, before West Virginia upset the Wildcats. During his only season at Kentucky, Cousins shot over 55 percent from the field while also pitching in one steal, two blocks and one assist per game.
Wildcat fans can look at Cousins as the one who set the groundwork for great post players to come into Calipari's system at Kentucky.
4. Cliff Hagan (1950-1954)
Cliff Hagan was one of the most dominant players, not only at Kentucky, but in the nation during his run from 1950-1954.
Hagan helped lead the Wildcats to the 1951 NCAA championship by scoring over nine points and grabbing eight rebounds as a freshman.
The Kentucky native had a coming out party as a sophomore when he averaged over 21 points and 16 rebounds per game. The AP named him an All-American following the 1952 season.
Due to a point-shaving scandal that saw Kentucky become the first school to receive the death penalty, Hagan wasn't able to play as a junior. The Wildcats were allowed back on the court during the 1953-54 season, only to see Hagan pick up right where he left off as a sophomore.
During his final year in Lexington, Hagan solidified his legacy by pouring in 24 points per game while still hauling down 13 rebounds. He would leave the program as the third most proficient scorer with 1,475 points and second in school history with 1,035 rebounds.
3. Bill Spivey (1949-1951)
Bill Spivey was a teammate of Cliff Hagan on the 1951 NCAA title team. Spivey just happened to be the better player and an even better rebounder than Hagan was during his time in Lexington.
It wasn't all positive for Spivey at Kentucky though—he was part of the point-shaving scandal that gave the Wildcats the death penalty for the 1952-53 season. In fact, Kentucky banned him from the team in March of 1952.
While he was on the court though, Spivey was as dominant as they come for Adolph Rupp. He averaged over 19 points per game during the course of his career, which was good enough for sixth all-time for the Wildcats.
Spivey made his name, though, on the boards. Standing at 7'0" in the early 1950s may have helped, but he put up outrageous numbers when it came to rebounding. In the 1950-51 season, Spivey averaged 17.2 rebounds per game, and his 567 rebounds in a season was a school record.
2. Anthony Davis (2011-12)
One man did so much in just one year.
Regular season SEC title? Yes.
No. 1 overall seed? Absolutely.
NCAA title? You bet.
Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four? Easily.
All-American? Check that one off.
Player of the Year? Duh.
Beloved forever by Big Blue Nation? Tough not to be with all those positive answers above.
That man is Anthony Davis, and that is a simple checklist of what he accomplished in his one year in the blue and white.
While leading Kentucky to its eighth NCAA championship, Davis put up one of the most impressive stat lines we've seen. It looked something like this.
14.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists and shooting over 62 percent from the field.
Simply put he played like one of the greatest players not only in the post but all-time at Kentucky.
However, there was one player who did slightly more than Davis—granted he had more time than Davis did.
1. Dan Issel (1966-1970)
Dan Issel was the dominant post player before Anthony Davis ever was. While it could be argued Davis is a better talent, Issel did more for a longer period of time at Kentucky. Therefore, he gets the nod as the best post player to wear Kentucky's blue and white.
Issel is the all-time leading scorer for the Wildcats with 2,138 points and a 25.8 PPG average. In 1970, he also scored a school-record 51 points in a game against LSU, before Jodie Meeks eclipsed that in 2009 when he scored 54 against Tennessee.
Issel was far from being just a scorer though. He also was known for being a great rebounder and ranks as the best rebounder in school history as well. Issel grabbed 1,078 rebounds, leading to a 12.9 RPG average.
Other school records Issel holds include averaging 33.9 points per game during the 1969-70 season. In comparison, there hasn't been another Wildcat to average over 30 points in a season. He also recorded 64 double-doubles during his career.
Issel was named All-American twice, following the 1969 season and 1970 season, and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1993.