Kentucky Basketball: Ranking 5 Best Wildcats Players from the 1990s

Bobby Reagan@uklefty22Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: Ranking 5 Best Wildcats Players from the 1990s

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    Kentucky basketball has been full of big names recently with the likes of John Wall, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins roaming the court in Lexington. However, before those great players, Kentucky was a dynasty in the 1990s.

    While their uniform taste was questionable at best (denim-colored uniforms?), the Wildcats were often a favorite for a national title.

    So in the spirit of throwing it back, let's take a look at the five best Kentucky players from the 1990s. We'll rank the players based on statistical output, awards earned and success in the NCAA tournament. 

    In order to qualify, we will be looking at people who played only in the 1990s.

5. Antoine Walker (1994-1996)

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    Antoine Walker only spent two years at Kentucky, but he made sure his name would always be remembered by Big Blue Nation.

    After being a McDonald's All-American out of Chicago, Walker committed to Rick Pitino at Kentucky. Walker averaged over seven points a game as a freshman and was named the SEC Tournament MVP in 1994-95. 

    He was then part of arguably the greatest Kentucky team in history in 1996, when he was teammates with future NBA players Derek Anderson, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed, Mark Pope, Jeff Sheppard and Wayne Turner.

    Walker was named All-SEC as a sophomore when he helped lead Kentucky to a national title. During that year he averaged 15 points per game and eight rebounds per game.

4. Scott Padgett (1994-1998)

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    Although his career at Kentucky was derailed early by academic problems, Scott Padgett would eventually prove to be one of the most impressive players during Kentucky's run in the 1990s.

    In just his second year, the Wildcats lost in the NCAA national championship game and Padgett was named to the All-NCAA Final Four Team.

    Padgett's versatility helped Kentucky win the national championship the very next year, and he was subsequently named a first-team All-American.

    He ended his career at UK with over 1,200 career points and 650 rebounds. He was then drafted 28th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1999 NBA draft.

Wayne Turner (1995-1998)

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    Of all the players on this list, Wayne Turner may have been the most reliable. The star point guard finished his career at Kentucky as the all-time leader in games played in NCAA Division I men's basketball history (he is now fifth behind David Lighty, Darius Miller, Deon Thompson and Walter Hodge).

    Turner led the Wildcats to three consecutive NCAA championship game appearances, winning it all in 1996 and 1998.

    While Turner was not a prolific scorer, he was a great passer and on-ball defender. He is currently ranked fourth in career assists and first in career steals in Kentucky basketball history.

2. Tony Delk (1992-1996)

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    Tony Delk made his name as arguably the most prolific sharpshooter in Kentucky history. He currently holds the team's career record for most three-pointers with 283. He is also ranked fifth in points scored, with a 14.2 career average.

    Over four years, Delk was named to the All-SEC team three times and was an All-American his senior year. He was also named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player as he led the Wildcats to a national championship in 1996.

    Delk was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 16th overall pick in 1996. He went on to play a total of 10 years in the NBA.

1. Jamal Mashburn (1990-1993)

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    It's no surprise that Jamal Mashburn is at the top of this list; he single-handedly altered UK's history.

    Mashburn was the first blue-chip player to sign with Kentucky after the program had endured a very dark probation period. He had been named a Parade All-American as well as Mr. Basketball in the state of New York.

    Nicknamed "Monster Mash," Mashburn was a member of one of Kentucky's most beloved teams, the "Unforgettables" of 1992. He helped the Wildcats reach the Final Four in 1993 and was named a first-team All-American.

    Mashburn currently is Kentucky's sixth-ranked career scorer. Most importantly, he was able to help UK return to national prominence.

    He was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1993 with the fourth overall selection.