Kentucky Basketball: The Best Wildcats at Every Position in Last Decade
To say the last decade of Kentucky basketball was interesting is a vast understatement. During that time there has been three different coaches, a national title, three Final Fours, extreme low points and a lot of great players.
Whether it's the pre-Calipari days with the likes of Patrick Sparks, Rajon Rondo and Jodie Meeks running around Rupp Arena or the last five years of Anthony Davis, Julius Randle and DeMarcus Cousins dominating the paint, each member of Big Blue Nation latches on to a certain player and deems them the best.
One thing that helps is Kentucky head coach John Calipari's philosophy that each player becomes one of his sons and they treat teammates like brothers. That's why players constantly come back during the summer, there are alumni games and there's always the guarantee someone will make an appearance during a big game.
This slideshow will cover the best Wildcat at each position since the 2004-05 season based on things like statistics, leadership, team success and fan adoration. Of course these lists tend to start a discussion or an argument, so feel free to let your opinion be heard in the comments section.
Point Guard: John Wall
Sure, Rajon Rondo is a better pro at this point in his career than John Wall. But this is all about what happened at Kentucky and there hasn't been a better point guard in the last decade, and arguably ever, than Wall.
Wall led Kentucky to the 2010 SEC title and a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament before the Wildcats were upset by West Virginia in the Elite Eight. Along the way he won various National Player of the Year awards, SEC Player of the Year, First Team All-American and Rookie of the Year.
Sure, he made his presence known by hitting a game-winning shot against Miami of Ohio in his first ever game wearing a Kentucky jersey. But, his legend is much more than that. He was the first guy to commit to Calipari and let everyone know Kentucky was back. He allowed the recruiting effort to be what it is under Calipari and staff and helped set the way for the likes of Brandon Knight and Andrew Harrison.
Shooting Guard: Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks might be the most forgotten great player Kentucky has had the last decade. Most of it is likely due to the fact he played for Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie and never played on a great team like those under Calipari.
But what's hard to forget is what Meeks did during his junior year. He broke the school record for points in a game when he dropped 54 points against Tennessee, a game where he also tied the school record by hitting 10 shots from behind the arc.
He would go on to finish the season with 854 total points, which ranks second in school history behind Dan Issel. He also broke the single-season three-point field goal record with a total of 117.
Many wonder what would have happened if Meeks decided to stay his senior year and play along side the likes of Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. A strong belief is another national title banner would be in the rafters and Meeks' name would be remembered better by Big Blue Nation.
Small Forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
It's a safe bet to say that there hasn't been a more loved player at Kentucky in the last decade than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Overcoming a stuttering problem, the soft-spoken kid from New Jersey won over all of Big Blue Nation with his play on the court.
While he wasn't the most polished player out there. He was the best wing defender and if you needed someone to make a play MKG was the guy you wanted the ball to go to. He took pride in doing all the little things–shutting down the opponents' best player, getting rebounds and open looks for his teammates–and he filled up the stat sheet every game.
Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 12 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and two assists all while helping Kentucky win its eighth national championship.
More importantly than that, he was the leader of that team. He started the breakfast club, where players would work out early in the morning then go eat breakfast together, helping build a brotherhood that showed on and off the court.
Power Forward: Julius Randle
Yes, the kid with the funny facial expressions, like that above, is Kentucky's best power forward over the last decade. What the picture doesn't show is the intensity and talent Randle brought to the court.
The crown jewel of what was expected to be a loaded recruiting class, Randle made his presence known early in the season when he recorded a double-double in seven of Kentucky's first eight games. He averaged a double-double on the season, with 15 points per game and over 12 rebounds per game.
When the Wildcats needed him to play his best, Randle showed up in March. He scored in double digits in all of Kentucky's NCAA tournament games and recorded a double-double in their first four games, helping lead Kentucky to the national title game. Don't forget either, he made the pass to Aaron Harrison to give Kentucky the lead and ultimate win against rival Louisville in the Sweet 16, too.
Center: Anthony Davis
Like there can be any debate with this selection. Anthony Davis isn't just the best center in the last decade for Kentucky, he's hands down the best player to come through Lexington.
During the one season Davis wore the blue and white he won SEC Player of Year, Final Four MOP and National Player of the Year. The Wildcats won the SEC regular season title, were given the No. 1 overall seed in March and eventually won the national title.
While leading Kentucky to its eighth NCAA championship, Davis put up one of the most impressive stat lines we've seen. It looked something like this.
14.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists while shooting over 62 percent from the field. He also shattered the school record by blocking 180 shots in just one season.