Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Scorers in Wildcats History
Kentucky basketball has the most wins of any program in history for a reason. It is a simple reason, actually. The Wildcats have had a plethora of talent come through Lexington, most of whom could score at will.
Whether it was when Adolph Rupp was commanding the sidelines and with players like Alex Groza and Dan Issel on the court or when Jack Givens, Kyle Macy and Rex Chapman played under Joe B. Hall. Even more recently when Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk and Antoine Walker helped Rick Pitino bring the program back to life, or when John Wall and Julius Randle put Kentucky on the map once again.
The names are timeless to Kentucky fans. However, a majority of those players did not crack our top five. We are still four months away from Midnight Madness, so we will take a trip down memory lane and look at the five best scorers in Wildcats history.
5. Alex Groza
Alex Groza will always be remembered for his part in a 1951 point-shaving incident that ultimately ended his NBA career. However, he is one of the great scorers in Kentucky's storied history.
Groza was a notorious scorer before he even stepped foot in Lexington. During his senior year of high school at Martins Ferry, he scored a record 628 points. That quickly translated to college ball. As a freshman in 1944-45, he scored 165 points in just 10 games.
He went on to score 1,744 points, which is good enough for 10th all-time at Kentucky. His scoring came in crucial moments as well. Groza led Kentucky in scoring in its back-to-back national championships. He tallied 14 points in the 1948 title game against Baylor and scored 25 of Kentucky's 46 points in 1949 against Oklahoma.
Groza, who was 6'7", left Kentucky as its leading scorer—a title that lasted 15 years. He was a three-time All-American and won an Olympic gold medal in 1948.
4. Jack Givens
Jack Givens has the most impressive scoring game in Kentucky's history.
Goose Givens scored 41 points, including the last 16 points the Wildcats scored in the first half, to help lead Kentucky to a 94-88 victory over Duke in the 1978 NCAA championship game.
It was the second highest total in the title game, only three behind Bill Walton's record set in 1973.
That output should not have been too much of a surprise for Kentucky fans. Givens is third all-time on the Kentucky scoring list with 2,038 points. He is one of three players in Kentucky history to record over 2,000 points while wearing the blue and white.
What is most impressive about Givens career, however, is that he was able to score 2,000 points after averaging just nine points a game as a freshman. Givens had the ability to score all over the court. Whether he was attacking the rim or pulling up from 15-feet, he was always a threat to score with the ball in his hands.
3. Kenny Walker
Kenny Walker, known for his ferocious dunking ability, is also one of the greatest scoring threats in Kentucky history.
Walker, is second all-time in Wildcats history, with 2,080 career points. The majority of those points came over two years—Walker exploded and scored 710 points as a junior and 721 points as a senior.
It was during his senior year when Walker accomplished a feat that has not been broken since.
During the second round of the 1986 NCAA tournament, Walker went a perfect 11-of-11 from the field for 32 points in a win against Western Kentucky. No one has been able to shoot a perfect percentage from the field in the tournament since.
Walker was a first team All-American during his senior year, in which he averaged over 20 points per game.
2. Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks does not rank high in the all-time scoring list at Kentucky. That is not because he could not put the ball through the hoop.
It is due to the short amount of time that Big Blue Nation got to enjoy Meeks' play. He was limited to just 11 games as a sophomore due to a sports hernia and left for the NBA after his junior year. In fact, he averaged under eight points per game heading into his junior year and seemed to be just another average player during the low point of Kentucky basketball.
Something happened junior year.
Meeks transformed into a guy that teams had to plan for. Even then he seemed somewhat unstoppable with the ball in his hand. There also was a special moment against rival Tennessee.
The Norcross, Ga. native torched the Volunteers for 54 points, setting a school record for most points scored in a single game. Meeks played in 39 of the 40 minutes and went 15-of-22 from the field, including 10-of-15 from behind the arc. He also did not miss from the free-throw line, where he went 14-of-14.
He went on to average almost 24 points per game during the season. He also set school records for three's made in a season, with 117. Meeks will live in Kentucky history as one of the best shooters to ever play in Lexington.
1. Dan Issel
A pretty simple answer for No. 1 on this list. Issel averaged over 25 points per game for his career, which saw him score 2,138 points for Kentucky.
When it comes to scoring records at Kentucky, Issel holds nearly every one. His senior year scoring average of 33.9 points per game is the best in a season and he held the single-game scoring record of 53 until Meeks broke it in 2009.
At 6'9" Issel played the power forward and center position for Kentucky during his four years in Lexington. A dominating scorer, he was also an outstanding rebounder, leaving Kentucky as the all-time leading rebounder.
Fans in Louisiana were treated to one of the best one-on-one matchups in college basketball history in 1970.
Issel and Kentucky were playing against Pete Maravich and the LSU Tigers, when the two most elite scorers in the conference and the country went at each other.
Maravich outscored Issel 64-51, but the Wildcats walked away with the win.