10 Greatest Point Guards in Kentucky Basketball History

Paul Ables@@PaulAblesBRContributor IIIJuly 9, 2012

10 Greatest Point Guards in Kentucky Basketball History

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    The history of Kentucky basketball is full of great players, but perhaps no other position has been as prolific as the point guard. Throughout the Wildcats' storied history, numerous players have assumed the role of floor general and led their team to victory.

    Therefore, selecting the ten greatest point guards in school history is not an easy task. There are well over 20 players who warrant selection on this list, including national champions and four-year starters. 

    With that being said, read on to view the school's best point guards of all-time. With so many potential candidates, there are bound to be other players that are worthy of selection. Feel free to leave a comment if you feel that a player was snubbed or if you enjoyed watching one of these players during their tenure. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

10. Roger Harden

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    Roger Harden is most likely the least-known player on this list, as he is often forgotten in the lore of UK greats. However, he played a pivotal role for the Cats from 1982-1986 and is one of the greatest pass-first point guards in school history.

    His name will forever be etched in the school records, mainly due to his assists total. Harden is the school's third all-time leader in career assists, trailing only Dirk Minniefield and Anthony Epps. 

    He has held that distinction for years, but his most impressive record was in tact until John Wall came to Kentucky. Wall broke the single season record for assists during the 2009-10 season, eclipsing Harden's tally of 244. His record stood for 25 years, and he is still 39 assists ahead of third-place finisher Travis Ford.

    Roger Harden does not rank highly on any other school list, and he never played in the NBA. However, he did make the All-SEC Third Team during the 1985-86 season. He was also Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana in 1982.

9. Brandon Knight

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    Brandon Knight had big shoes to fill when he committed to the University of Kentucky. He was tabbed to replace departing legend John Wall, who put the school back on the map and set the single-season assist record. 

    Fortunately, John Calipari picked the right player for the job. Knight filled in beautifully for Wall and created his own unique legacy during the 2010-11 campaign. He led a roster full of inexperienced freshman and unproven seniors back to the Final Four, snapping the longest streak of not appearing in the Final Four in school history.

    Whereas John Wall possessed freakish athleticism, Brandon was a prolific outside shooter. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in high school and teamed up with fellow long-distance bombers Doron Lamb and Darius Miller to form a deadly three-point trio.

    Knight cemented his spot in Kentucky lore with his play in the 2011 NCAA tournament. In a second round matchup against West Virginia, he exploded for 30 points and propelled UK to the NCAA Sweet 16.

    The Wildcats then had to face Ohio State, the tournament's top overall seed. Knight shot poorly all game, but he hit the most memorable shot of his career with a clutch jumper to lead Kentucky to victory over the Buckeyes.

    In the Elite Eight, Knight bounced back and poured in 22 points to lead Kentucky back to the Final Four by defeating North Carolina. They fell short against Connecticut in the national semifinal, but that team surpassed all expectations.

    Knight left the program after one season, but he left his mark on the record books. He scored 657 points, which was good for the 12th-best single season in UK history. In fact, he scored more points than any freshman during Calipari's tenure so far.

    His 87 three-point field goals are the sixth most by any Kentucky player in a single year. Brandon was also named the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player, as well as a First Team All SEC selection. 

    He has gone on to star in the NBA and was named to the First Team All-Rookie Team.

8. Rajon Rondo

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    Before he established himself as a NBA star, Rajon Rondo displayed his numerous talents in Rupp Arena. Rondo played for the University of Kentucky for two seasons before leaving for the professional ranks.

    He made a lasting impression during his short tenure. Rondo burst onto the scene as a freshman and immediately made his mark in the record books. He set the record for steals in a single season, recording 87 in 2004-05 and breaking the previous record by eight swipes.

    In the NCAA tournament, Rondo led the Wildcats to the NCAA Elite Eight, where they lost an overtime heartbreaker to Michigan State. The game went down as one of the most memorable in UK lore, as fellow guard Patrick Sparks nailed a game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation to force the game into overtime.

    Entering his sophomore year, Rondo made yet another assault on the record books with his steals and assists. He did not match his freshman total of 87 steals, but his tally of 69 placed him fifth on the single-season list. Rondo also dished out an incredible 167 assists, good for 11th in a single season by a UK signal caller.

    After the season, he declared for the NBA draft and was selected by the Boston Celtics. Although Rondo's teams never reached the Final Four or beyond, he was one of the most dynamic point guards in school history and is having a stellar playing career in the NBA.

7. Sean Woods

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    Sean Woods is one of the few players on this list to have his jersey retired in the rafters of Rupp Arena. He will forever be in the hearts of Kentucky fans for his role on the 1991-92 team, simply known as "The Unforgettables." 

    Woods was not a Kentuckian, but he became a native son during his time at UK. He remained with the program when the NCAA hit the program with probation. New head coach Rick Pitino took the reigns and at least wanted to show signs of life for an embarrassed and gutted roster.

    Little did he know that Sean Woods was on his way to becoming a school legend. He was the team's starting point guard for his entire career, all of which culminated in the 1992 NCAA Regional Final against Duke. The Wildcats faced off against Christian Laettner and the Duke Blue Devils.

    What happened then has become known as the single greatest game in college basketball history. The underdog Kentucky team fought like mad men and forced overtime. As the game clock neared completion, Woods hit a circus shot that gave the Wildcats the lead, with Duke inbounding the ball for one last play.

    Of course, we all know what happened next, and no Kentucky fan wants to relive that moment. It is interesting though that time was set to remember Sean Woods' buzzer beater, until fate intervened and gave the glory to the opposing team.

    Regardless of the outcome, all four of the team's star players had their jerseys hung in the rafters after the school's most improbable season in decades. As for Woods, he ended his tenure as the program's fifth all-time leader in career assists, including three of the twenty best season assist totals ever recorded by a Wildcat player.

    He is now the head coach of Morehead State University. 

6. Anthony Epps

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    Anthony Epps was one of Kentucky's greatest point guards, and he played during one of the school's most successful runs in its history.

    Epps debuted for the Wildcats during the 1993-94 season. Having just come off of the program's first Final Four appearance in nine seasons, there was a lot of buzz for Rick Pitino's emerging success in Lexington.

    Epps helped guide his teams back to national prominence by setting up his teammates and connecting on nearly 40 percent of his career three-point attempts. In his final two seasons, Epps led Kentucky to back-to-back national finals, including the 1995-96 NCAA National Championship.

    Anthony capped off his career by tallying 193 assists in his senior season, tying Travis Ford for the second-highest assist total in a single season by any Wildcat player. Both players have since been eclipsed by John Wall's record-breaking year in 2009-10, but his total is still tied for the third-highest ever.

    Epps does hold a few prominent UK records by himself. He currently ranks second in school history in career assists. His 544 assists are far ahead of any other player, with the exception of Dirk Minniefield's all-time leading total of 646. 

    Anthony is also sixth in school history in career steals, headlined by his 68 swipes during the 1996-97 year. That steal total is seventh-best in Kentucky basketball history.

    Epps was named to the All-SEC Third Team in his senior season. During UK's title run in 1996, he was named to the All-NCAA Regional Team.

5. John Wall

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    For a player who only played one season at Kentucky, John Wall accomplished more than anyone thought possible and left as one of the greatest players to ever play at the school, regardless of position. 

    Wall was more than a great player; he was a symbol of things to come. His presence on campus brought about a revived swagger and confidence that had been absent from Lexington for years. He was an immediate collegiate superstar who drew the nation's attention back to the Big Blue Nation, and for that he will always be cherished.

    Granted, he was a pretty great player on the court as well. No other point guard in Kentucky basketball history had the athleticism, quickness and swagger that John Wall did. He was an absolute blur in the open court, initiating one-man fast break opportunities that were nearly impossible to stop. 

    Wall made a big impression in his first game at Rupp Arena, when he hit the game-winning shot against Miami (Ohio) to lead the 'Cats to victory. From that point forward, Wall continued to develop into a true floor general and finished among the nation's leaders in assists per game.

    Wall led the team to a 35-3 record, which included the SEC regular season championship and victories over Louisville, North Carolina and Indiana. However, the team fell one game short of their goal as they lost to West Virginia in the NCAA Regional Final.

    With that being said, John Wall accomplished many things during his one year tenure at Kentucky. He broke a 25-year record by surpassing Roger Harden for the most assists in a single-season. He also broke Travis Ford's record of the most assists in one game, tallying 16 on December 29, 2009. Wall also finished ninth on the school's season steals list.  

    After his lone year on campus, Wall declared for the NBA draft and was the first overall selection to the Washington Wizards. He is now a successful professional who has been an excellent ambassador for the program, and has paid off more recruiting dividends than we can count. Wall was simply a once-in-a-generation type player.

4. Wayne Turner

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    Very few players in Kentucky's storied history won as many games as Wayne Turner. Coming to Lexington during the 1995-96 season, Turner played in three consecutive national finals from 1996-1998, with the Wildcats winning two of those championships.

    He actually played all four years for Kentucky, and his team's final tournament results were as follows: NCAA National Championship, NCAA National Runner-Up, NCAA National Championship and NCAA Elite Eight. Not even Darius Miller, the program's latest four-year graduate, played at that high of a level during his time in Lexington.

    Turner was a steadying force during his tenure and specialized on the defensive side of the court. During the 1996-97 campaign, Turner set a single season record with 79 steals. This record lasted for seven years, when Rajon Rondo eclipsed Turner's totals.

    Wayne Turner is currently 10th on the school's single season assists record, but he ranks fourth on the career list. He did not fare well shooting the ball, but very few Kentucky players were better at setting up their teammates and playing excellent defense on the opposing point guard than Turner.

    He did not stick as a NBA player, but his legacy will forever be tied to the title teams that he led during Kentucky's greatest three-season stretch ever. He was also the SEC Tournament MVP in 1997-98, as well as the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player. Turner was also selected to the All-NCAA Regional Team during the 1997 NCAA tournament.

3. Dirk Minniefield

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    For most of the general college basketball fans, Dirk Minniefield is known for his incredible slam agaisnt Mississippi State that is one of college basketball's greatest dunks in history.

    However, UK fans remember him as one of the most dynamic and effective lead guards in the program's long history. Minniefield is far and away the school's leader in career assists, with his 646 dimes more than 100 ahead of second place. 

    Those totals include the sixth, seventh and 18th-best single season assist tallies ever recorded in Lexington. Dirk also recorded 14 assists in a single contest, which is good for the third-highest single game outing by any Wildcat player.

    Minniefield was also a member of the 1,000 point club for the university. In all, he has one of the most impressive careers of any player in Kentucky basketball and is one of the all-time greats of the program.

2. Travis Ford

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    Travis Ford is one of the greatest scoring point guards in Kentucky basketball history. His sweet outside shooting stroke and steady passing ability helped guide coach Rick Pitino to his first Final Four at Kentucky during the 1992-93 season.

    Ford transferred to Lexington from the University of Missouri. He was a home-grown local boy raised in Madisonville, KY. Pitino brought him to Kentucky and he immediately became part of the school's most beloved team: the "Unforgettables" in 1991-92. 

    Granted, Ford did not play a significant role on the team, but he took the reigns during his junior season and produced one of the greatest single seasons of any UK point guard. He set the single-season record for three-point field goals, connecting on 101 perimeter shots at an eye-popping 52.9 percent success rate. His record stood for 16 years and was eventually snapped by Jodie Meeks during the 2008-09 campaign.

    Ford also racked up 166 assists, good for 13th on the all-time list. His 56 steals were good for the 24th best single season in that category.

    In other words, Ford's 1992-93 season was one of the best by any point guard in Wildcat history. To cap it off, he led the Cats to the Final Four. It was a season for the ages.

    He remained at the school for one more year, and he ended up topping himself in the assists department by finishing with 193 that season. This was good for the third-highest total in the school record books. He dropped off in other categories, though, but he finished his career ninth on the career assists list.

    Ford was a college star, having been named the SEC Tournament MVP twice, selected to the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, and was the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player during the Cats' Final Four run. He is one of the greatest point guards in the school's history and one of the most beloved as well.

1. Kyle Macy

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    Kyle Macy is a bona fide Kentucky legend, having put together one of the greatest careers by any guard in the school's long and storied history. He led the 1977-78 team to the NCAA National Championship and had a successful stint in the NBA.

    Macy came to Kentucky as the Mr. Basketball from Indiana. Macy originally committed to play for Purdue, but changed his mind and came to Lexington.

    He had a sweet shooting stroke and was also pesky on defense. Between 1977-1980, Macy was a First Team AP All-American all three seasons, including that championship year.

    Macy won numerous honors besides the All-American selections, such as the SEC Player of the Year, the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player, First Team All-SEC selection three times and was an All-SEC Academic All-American.

    Kyle left his mark on the program as the sixth place career leader in assists, the eighth highest single season in assists and one of the greatest floor generals of his era. Macy will forever be remembered as a champion and an elite-caliber player during his playing days at Kentucky.