A program that was built on the success of one coach and turned into a tradition that is one of the most coveted in the sport today. It has featured many All-Americans and many fantastic coaches. The Kentucky Wildcats have had 17 consensus All-Americans. Many of these players lead the Wildcats to a national title. The Wildcats have had 25 players be first round draft picks in the NBA. To win as many games as the Wildcats have it is reasonable to think they needed the players to do so.
I have created a list of the top 10 greatest Kentucky Wildcat basketball players. Players that, during their years, gave the most to the program while excelling on the hardwood. Please feel free to comment and give any feedback about what you think is right or, most importantly, wrong about this list!
Rex Chapman, a native of Kentucky, made his name as a Wildcat from behind the three-point arc. He shot 40 percent for his career from three point range. He averaged 17.6 points a game over just two seasons. He declared early for the NBA after his sophomore season and was drafted eighth overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
Ron Mercer was one of the most dynamic UK players to ever suit up. Blazing speed and tremendous elevation are the reasons Ron Mercer found his way onto this list.
In two seasons, he averaged about 13 points a game and shot 48 percent from the field. He was drafted sixth overall in 1997 by the Boston Celtics. He was a consensus All-American his sophomore season.
Cotton Nash was one of the premier big men for the Wildcats. He pulled down 962 career rebounds and scored 1770 points in three seasons. He was a lights out shooter. He was named an NCAA All-American in all three seasons he played. He also was a baseball player and played in both the MLB and NBA.
Derek Anderson played two seasons for the Wildcats. He played on the 1995-96 team deemed the "Untouchables" that won a national title and had five future first round draft picks.
He scored 674 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons before bolting to the NBA. He was drafted 13th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tayshaun Prince may be one of the most loved Kentucky basketball players, bar none. He stayed for all four seasons and was a big contributor for Tubby Smith.
Prince scored a total 1775 points in 135 games. He also shot 45 percent from the field. Prince was drafted 23rd overall by the Detroit Pistons.
Jamal Mashburn hits the rankings at No. 5. Solid at every part of the game, Mashburn excelled at making jaws drop in Lexington. He averaged 19.8 points and nearly eight rebounds a game over his three seasons.
Mashburn found his name on the All-American team both his sophomore and junior seasons. He was drafted fourth overall by the Dallas Mavericks.
Antoine Walker also a part of a national title at UK. He scored 806 points in 69 games for the Wildcats. He was known for his ability to shoot the three and for his aggressive defense. He was drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics.
Patrick Patterson's career is still in progress, but he is good enough by far to be on this list. Patterson has been through the good and the bad at UK and is being rewarded for staying this season.
So far, Patterson has averaged 17 points and eight rebounds a game over three years. When Patterson decided to return for his junior year, he instantly became a fan favorite for UK fans all around the country.
Tony Delk is, in my eyes, the second best player in UK history. A great scorer and big time player, Delk led the 1996 'Cats to their sixth title. He scored 1890 points, which was good for an average of 14.2 points a game.
He played at a high tempo, which made the 'Cats a very tough team to play with during his four-year career. Delk was an All-American his senior year and was drafted 16th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
Dan Issel is the greatest player in Wildcat history. He owns the career scoring and rebounding records at UK. He averaged 25.8 points for the 'Cats.
He was known as the "Horse" for his tremendous work ethic. Issel was named a consensus All-American after his senior season. Issel can be found in the Basketball Hall of Fame.