The All-Time Kentucky Basketball Starting 5
By Sam Dunn
Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball is less of a program than it is a factory: a factory of relentless, merciless college basketball excellence. John Calipari has taken Big Blue Nation's powerful tradition and supercharged it for the 21st century, and as a result, picking an all-time starting five that plumbs the complete annals of UK basketball brilliance is no simple task.
Of course, we're taking it on anyway. Witness the most world-beating lineup that Kentucky men's basketball could ever assemble.
5. Center: Anthony Davis
Players like Anthony Davis only come around once in a lifetime -- if that! A consensus First Team All-American, SEC Player of the Year, and National Player of the Year as a one-and-done freshman, the graceful, destructive Davis ended his UK career with a national title. Naturally, he was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. He averaged 14.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game to go along with an unreal 4.7 blocks in college, and is now a perennial NBA All-Star and All-NBA candidate after being drafted No. 1 overall.
4. Forward: Jamal Mashburn
Arguably the greatest of the Rick Pitino era in Lexington, Jamal Mashburn emerged out of the Bronx to help lead the Cats to a Final Four in 1993, their first in nine years. He finished his college career as a consenus First Team All-American and the SEC Player of the Year, and went on to be an NBA All-Star. He remains the No. 6 all-time leading scorer in program history.
3. Forward: Cliff Hagan
A true superstar in the days of Adolph Rupp, Cliff Hagan helped lead Kentucky to the 1951 national championship. He's still No. 3 all-time in rebounding at UK to this day, and he owns two First Team All-America nods to his name. A five-time NBA All-Star, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, becoming the first Kentuckly player ever enshrined there.
2. Guard: Tony Delk
The 1995-96 Wildcats were a force to be reckoned with, and it was senior Tony Delk who powered them to glory when it mattered most. The '96 SEC Player of the Year, a First Team All-American, and the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player finished his college career with a national title against Syracuse, and is still No. 5 all-time at UK in scoring and No. 2 in steals.
1. Guard: John Wall
There's never been a player quite like John Wall. The superstar from Raleigh sets the bar for one-and-done point guards, winning the 2010 Adolph Rupp Trophy for national player of the year and earning shoo-in honors as a First Team All-American. The jewel of John Calipari's first recruiting class in Lexington went on to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards, and has been an NBA All-Star five times.
ALL-TIME BENCH: DeMarcus Cousins, Dan Issel, Ron Mercer, Tayshaun Prince