Kentucky Basketball: All Decade Team 2001-2010

Eric WrightContributor IIIMay 30, 2011

Kentucky Basketball: All Decade Team 2001-2010

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  A cheerleader from the Kentucky Wildcats waves a giant UK flag as the team warms up prior to playing against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Kentucky Wildcats have one of, if not the most, storied programs in the history of college basketball.  Seven NCAA titles, too many SEC titles to count, numerous All-Americans and the most wins in Division One history don't even begin to tell the whole story of the Kentucky program.

    But this past decade was largely one of the lowest point in the history of the program.  The team was very good to great in a few of the years, but it was one of the few decades in Kentucky history that did not have a single Final Four team, and was a decade that saw the once promising career of Tubby Smith have a drastic fall and the disastrous hiring of Billy Gillispie.

    That being said, Kentucky can still field one of the best All Decade teams in the country...and not all due to John Calipari and his first great class at Kentucky.  Yeah, that class had an impact.  But some of the guys from the earlier coaches of the decade had pretty good careers as well.

    So without further ado here is the All Decade team for the Kentucky Wildcats from the first decade of the 21st Century.

Point Guard: John Wall

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    LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 02:  John Wall #11 of the Kentucky Wildcats dunks the ball during the SEC game against the Ole Miss Rebels on February 2, 2010 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 85-75.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Wall only played one year at Kentucky, but he still has to be the pick for the point guard spot on the all decade team.  Wall beat out Rajon Rondo and Cliff Hawkins for the spot.

    Simply put, Wall was a once in a generation player at Kentucky.  He not only was a star on the court, but he also was the main player responsible for putting UK back on the map after the disastrous Billy Clyde Era (or error).

    Under Wall's leadership, Kentucky became the "it" school and also went from the NIT to one awful shooting night away from the Final Four.  Wall was the most exciting player in the college game for his one year run and became Kentucky's first ever number one pick in the NBA draft.

    While Rondo has become a star in the NBA and Hawkins had a much longer career with some incredible highs, there can really be no argument that John Wall deserves to be on the all decade team.

Shooting Guard: Keith Bogans

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 16:  Keith Bogans #10 of University of Kentucky drives upcourt during the Championship game against Mississippi State at the SEC Tournament at the Louisiana Superdome on March 14, 2003 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The University of Kentu
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Bogans not only holds the distinction of being the best shooting guard of the decade, but statistically his career ranks right up there with some of the all-time greats at Kentucky.

    You might not realize it if you aren't a Kentucky fan, but Bogans was actually one of the most prolific scorers in UK history.  By the time it was all said and done, Bogans ended up being ranked fourth on the all-time scoring list at Kentucky trailing only Dan Issel, Kenny Walker and Jack Givens.

    Bogans was also the best defender on the team and one of the premier defenders at his position during his time in college. 

    In fact you would be hard pressed to find a Kentucky fan anywhere that doesn't blame a devestating Bogans ankle injury, and his subsequent inability to guard a certain Miami Heat star in the Elite Eight, as costing UK an eighth NCAA title.

Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince

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    I mean, just watch the video and that should be enough all by itself.

    But if it's not, then here are some other reasons for you.  By the time his career was done Prince was the eighth-most prolific scorer in Kentucky's storied history.  Prince was an SEC Player of the Year, was on multiple All-SEC teams and was also an All-America selection. 

    In addition to his scoring ability, Prince was also a terrific defender and a really great all around player with a very good shooting touch and an equally impressive game around the basket.  With his freakish size and athleticism, Prince was one of the most difficult match-ups on both ends of the floor in college basketball.

    Whether it was doing things for himself or setting up teammates, Prince was one of those guys that knew when to take over a game and when to get other guys involved.  And that has continued since his time in the NBA which has included an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons and several defensive player accolades.

Power Forward: Patrick Patterson

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20:  Patrick Patterson #54 of the Kentucky Wildcats slams the ball during a 90-60 win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 20, 2010 in
    Dave Martin/Getty Images

    Patterson was a close selection over fan favorite, and very good player, Chuck Hayes.  But while Hayes was a terrific Wildcat and has had a very good NBA career with the Houston Rockets, Patterson was just on another level as a player and had a more significant impact on the program.

    When Patterson decided to come to Kentucky, the Wildcats had been mired in a years long recruiting slump that led to the downfall of Tubby Smith as the coach at Kentucky.  Patterson was the first big time recruit to come to Kentucky in some time when he decided to matriculate in Lexington shortly after Billy Gillispie was hired at Kentucky.

    And while Kentucky struggled in Kentucky's first two seasons, including an NIT trip in his sophomore year, it was largely due to Patterson that Kentucky stayed afloat at all and remained somewhat relevant on the national stage. 

    Without Patterson, losing seasons were a very likely possibility for a couple of years and who knows what that would have meant for the UK program.  Thanks to Patterson we never found out.

Center: DeMarcus Cousins

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    When good Swops attack.
    When good Swops attack.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Kind of like the John Wall situation, you almost have to put Cousins here even if you don't want to have a one year guy on the team.  The only other real possibilities were Marquis Estill and Randolph Morris...but truth be told those guys just don't compare to the absolute physical force that DeMarcus Cousins turned out to be.

    Cousins was a dominating center the likes of which Kentucky hadn't seen in years, and might not see again for some time.  And while he was here for just that one season, Cousins–along with John Wall—led Kentucky back into the limelight as the go to place for star players all across the country.

    While they were one game short of making the Final Four, Cousins helped leave a legacy that Kentucky should benefit from for years.  And at the rate he improved in the NBA last year and where he projects to be in the future, his impact on Kentucky cannot be measured at this time.  Due to that and how good he was for Big Blue, Cousins has to be on the team.

Bench: Jodie Meeks, Erik Daniels, Chuck Hayes, Marquis Estill

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    LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 21:  Jodie Meeks #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball during the SEC game against the Auburn Tigers at Rupp Arena on January 21, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    I didn't want to name five guys to the bench, because at that point I might as well have a whole second string all decade team.  So I picked four guys that had excellent UK careers and could fill in at multiple spots on the floor to give me a good set of guys off the bench when my starters needed a break up 50.

    And what better way to start the bench then with the single game record holder for points, Jodie Meeks.  Meeks lit up Tennessee for 54 points to set the school record, and he hasn't stopped since currently plying his trade for the 76ers in the NBA.  Meeks could play the point in a crunch, but would be best suited to come in for instant offense from deep when needed.

    Marquis Estill was a very skilled offensive player, and while he lacked the physicality of DeMarcus Cousins he was still a very above average to good defensive player.  Estill was also a Kentucky kid and while that's not the most important thing in the world, it would be nice to have one homegrown guy on the squad.

    As for Hayes and Daniels, I had to put these guys on the team together because anyone who followed Kentucky while these two played together had to love their interior passing with one another. 

    These guys were like a fast break that all happened within 15 feet of the hoop.  When they were clicking they were breathtaking to watch.  Watching them get upset in the NCAA tournament and not winning a title as the number one overall seed was one of the most painful moments of my life as a UK fan.