Top 10 Best Kentucky College Basketball Players
Kentucky basketball has featured some of the best players in the world. They have won eight national championships and have been at the top of college basketball for many years. Listed below are the top ten best players who have ever played for Kentucky.
Who Are the Best Kentucky College Basketball Players of All Time?
- Anthony Davis
- John Wall
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Demarcus Cousins
- Jamal Mashburn
- Kenny Walker
- Alex Groza
- Tayshaun Prince
- Rajon Rondo
- Dan Issel
1. Anthony Davis
- NCAA Champion (2012)
- NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2012)
- National College Player of the Year (2012)
- First-Team All-American (2012)
- SEC Player of the Year (2012)
- NABC Defensive Player of the Year (2012)
- USBWA National Freshman of the Year (2012)
- NCAA Blocks Leader (2012)
- SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2012)
- SEC Rookie of the Year (2012)
Although he only played one season, Anthony Davis is arguably the best player Kentucky has ever seen. The 6'10” power forward played one season at Kentucky in 2011-2012 and led the team to a National Championship while also winning the National College Player of the Year award. Davis averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and a whopping 4.7 blocks per game. The year also featured him leading all of college basketball in total blocks.
During his single season, Davis won multiple SEC honors, including Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the year. After college, he was selected first overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans). He currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and is one of the best players in the current NBA.
2. John Wall
- NCAA All-Region (2010)
- Rupp Trophy (2010)
- SEC Player of the Year (2010)
- All SEC Team (2010)
- SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player (2010)
- SEC Rookie of the Year (2010)
Despite playing one season, John Wall was the most dominant point guard that Kentucky has ever had. He is a 6’4” point guard who played one season at Kentucky in the 2009-2010 season. Wall and teammate Demarcus Cousins even led the Wildcats to a 32-2 record in the regular season. Unfortunately, after three convincing blowout wins, Kentucky lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight. John Wall still had a historic season and March Madness performance.
Wall finished his career at Kentucky, averaging 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. After college, he was drafted first overall in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. He was one of the best point guards in the NBA before injuries derailed his career. He is currently on the Los Angeles Clippers.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns
- NCAA All-Region (2015)
- All-SEC Team (2015)
- SEC All-Freshman (2015)
- SEC Rookie of the Year
Karl-Anthony Towns is a 6’11 center who played for one spectacular year for Kentucky in the 2014-2015 season. In one season, Towns led the Wildcats to a 34-0 season which included a Final Four appearance. Towns recorded 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 21 minutes of a game.
The 2014-2015 Wildcats featured nine future NBA players, so he wasn’t required to play too many minutes. This didn’t stop him from winning multiple SEC awards, including Rookie of the Year. After college, he was selected first overall in the NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has played there ever since and has been regarded as one of the best big men in the league.
4. Demarcus Cousins
- NCAA All-Region (2010)
- All-SEC (2010)
- All-SEC Tournament Team (2010)
- SEC All-Freshman (2010)
- SEC Rookie of the Year (2010)
Demarcus Cousins is a 6’10” center who played n for Kentucky in the 2009-2010 season and formed with John Wall the best duo that Kentucky had ever seen. He was a part of the team that went 32-2 and lost in the Elite Eight. He averaged 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The hot-headed big man was able to use his giant frame and ability to somewhat stretch the floor to create a true matchup nightmare for opposing centers.
He racked up a ton of different SEC honors and was ranked as the best center for the NBA draft. He would end up getting drafted fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings and play there for seven seasons, where he established himself as the best center in the NBA for a big chunk of it. Unfortunately, injuries played a big role in shaping Cousins’ career, and he spent a lot of time bouncing around the league. He is currently out of the league but is trying to make a comeback.
5. Jamal Mashburn
- NCAA All-Tournament Team
- 2x NCAA All-Region (1992,1993)
- SEC Player of the Year (1993)
- 3x All-SEC (1991,1992,1993)
- 2x All-SEC Tournament Team
- SEC All Freshman (1991)
- SEC Tournament MVP
Jamal Mashburn was a powerful forward who played three seasons at Kentucky from 1990 to 1993. He was a scoring machine and averaged 18.8 points per game over the course of the three seasons in which he played. He was even given the nickname “Monster Mash,” which lasted into his glory days in the NBA.
Mashburn was never able to reach the National Championship but led his 1992 team to the Elite Eight and his 1993 team to the Final Four. After college, Mashburn was selected fourth overall by the Dallas Mavericks and was a consistent 20-point-per-game scorer for 12 seasons.
6. Kenny Walker
- 2x NCAA All-Region (1985,1986)
- 2x SEC Player of the Year (1985,1986)
- 4x All-SEC
Kenny Walker is a 6’8” forward who was known for his ability to dunk the basketball. He played for four seasons at Kentucky from 1982 to 1986. Getting a star player to stay at school for all four years is rare today, but it was very common in the 1980s. In four years, he recorded 15.8 points per game and seven rebounds.
Walker was honored to the All-SEC team every single year. He helped lead his team to the Final Four in 1984, where they fell short. After college, he was drafted by the New York Knicks with the fifth overall pick. Unfortunately, he could never find the dominance that he once had in college and was out of the league after just five seasons.
7. Alex Groza
- 2x NCAA Champion (1948,1949)
- 2x NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1948,1949)
- All-SEC (1949)
Alex Groza was the leader of the original “Fabulous Five” that won back-to-back NCAA Championships. He was also a 6’7” center who played two seasons at Kentucky from 1947 to 1949. He was awarded the Most Outstanding Player in both of these championship runs. He averaged 16.2 points per game, but no other statistics were tracked during the 1940s.
Groza was selected with the second overall pick in the 1949 NBA draft by the Indianapolis Olympians. He won the Rookie of the Year and made the All-Star team in both of his first two seasons. Unfortunately, Groza was part of a point-shaving scandal and was kicked out of the league after that.
8. Tayshaun Prince
- SEC Player of the Year (2001)
- 2x All-SEC (2001,2002)
- All-SEC Tournament Team (2001)
- SEC Tournament MVP (2001)
Tayshaun Prince is a 6’9” forward whose 7’2” wingspan allowed him to be one of the most versatile defenders that Kentucky has ever had. He played four seasons at Kentucky from 1998-2002 and recorded 13.1 with a steal and a block per game. He never had any luck in the NCAA tournament, but he played in it four times. He was honored with multiple SEC awards, including the SEC Player of the Year in his junior season.
Many believe that Prince was ahead of his time and could be an All-Star level player in today's NBA. He was drafted 23rd overall in the 2002 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Despite never winning an NCAA championship, he won an NBA championship in 2004 and was a high contributor. He would go on to have a very solid career and play 15 seasons.
9. Rajon Rondo
- SEC All-Freshman
- Most steals in a season in Kentucky history (87)
Rajon Rondo is a 6’1” point guard who played two seasons with Kentucky from 2004 to 2006. Even though Rondo was undersized, his basketball smarts were some of the best that the sport has ever seen. During his time with Kentucky, he put up 9.8 points with 4.2 assists and 2.3 steals a game. He was the point guard and the leader of two great Kentucky teams that were never able to reach the Final Four. Rondo was also never really recognized with awards and did not have the most impressive stats.
Rondo set the school record for most steals in a season, which still stands today. He also had a 19-rebound game which was the most rebounds ever by a Kentucky guard. He was selected with the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns but was traded to the Boston Celtics on draft night. Two years later, he helped the Celtics win a Championship as the starting point guard. Rondo played 17 seasons for nine different franchises.
10. Dan Issel
- 3x NCAA All-Region (1968,1969,1970)
- 3x All-SEC (1968,1969,1970)
Dan Issel is a 6’9” center who played three seasons at Kentucky from 1967 to 1970. In those three years, Issel put up multiple monster seasons. His career averages are 25.8 points and 12.6 rebounds. This overshadows his senior year, where he put up a whopping 33.9 points and 13 rebounds per game. He scored multiple 50-point games and set a Kentucky single-game scoring record of 53 points which held for 39 years.
Issel led his team to three SEC Champions but never could make it past the Elite Eight. He finished his Kentucky career by setting 23 school records. He was drafted into the NBA and the ABA and first played six seasons in the ABA for the Kentucky Colonials, where he won a championship. He then joined the Denver Nuggets and had a Hall of Fame career.
- Antoine Walker
- Bam Adebayo
- De’aaron Fox
- Devin Booker
- Jamal Murray
- Julius Randle
- Pat Riley
- Rex Chapman
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Shawn Kemp
- Tyler Herro
Who is the best Kentucky men’s basketball player of all time?
Anthony Davis is arguably the greatest Kentucky men’s basketball player of all time. He averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game. He also helped lead the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship and was named Collegiate Player of the Year for his efforts.