Kentucky Basketball: The 5 Most Underrated Wildcats in the Past Decade
When fans think of Kentucky basketball during the last decade, big names like Anthony Davis, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Brandon Knight come to mind. Thoughts of Final Four runs and a national title bring those big names to the forefront.
However, there were players on those same teams who were just as valuable in leading the Wildcats to their March runs. They might be overshadowed in college by big-name teammates or maybe haven't seen the same success in the NBA as others on their respective teams.
This slideshow will take a look at five of them, evaluating just how underrated they were during their time wearing Kentucky's blue and white.
5. Randolph Morris
Some may consider Randolph Morris a bust due to the team's lack of success while he was in Lexington. Combine that with his high ranking and his entering Kentucky as part of a No. 1 recruiting class, and people will tend to forget about Morris.
However, it wasn't his fault that Kentucky never seemed to succeed during his three years as a Wildcat. Morris was extremely effective, averaging 12.6 points and six rebounds per game during his Kentucky career.
Morris really came into his own during his junior year. He was easily the team's best player and arguably the best post player in the SEC during that time. He developed an array of post moves that included a jump hook and a runner that seemed to be automatic.
If Morris had played on a higher-profile team, or if his freshman-year team had won one more game to make the Final Four, Morris may have been more highly rated. However, the lack of success will always loom over his head, leaving him one to be forgotten when thinking of great players over the last decade.
4. Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague isn't one of the first people who come to mind when someone mentions point guards who played under John Calipari. However, he's the only one to win a national championship.
Teague, who hasn't had the same NBA success as his former teammates, started all 40 games, helping lead Kentucky to a 38-2 record while winning its eighth national championship. He averaged more than 10 points per game and dished out nearly five assists per game.
More important than stats, he provided great on-ball defense and a calming presence as a freshman point guard playing in big games. He's also often overlooked because of his unique style of play. He wasn't a good shooter from outside the paint and would often look careless while playing.
However, he stepped up when his team needed him and could take the ball to the hoop with his incredible quickness.
3. Terrence Jones
Lost in the shuffle of great players will be Terrence Jones.
After bursting onto the scene as a freshman by dominating his first eight games, Jones made his name known across the country. He averaged 20 points a game and grabbed five double-doubles during that run before settling for averages of 15 points and eight rebounds on the year.
Deciding to come back for his sophomore year, Jones was expected to be a dominant force playing alongside Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. However, his no-show in an early game against Indiana had people questioning just how good he was.
From there on out, it was a case of which Terrence Jones would show up for most of Kentucky fans. His play went unnoticed as he recorded averages of 12 points and seven rebounds per game on a team that featured six future NBA draft picks.
2. Eric Bledsoe
If John Wall didn't play at Kentucky, where would Eric Bledsoe be in the minds of Kentucky fans or when it came to the NBA draft?
Playing out of position at shooting guard, Bledsoe played second fiddle to Wall in the backcourt during Calipari's first year as head coach at Kentucky. It worked out because of Wall and Bledsoe's friendship and their pure talent, as Wall was the No. 1 overall pick and Bledsoe averaged 11 points per game while playing over 30 minutes per night.
Even if you take away Wall, Big Blue Nation still remembers DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and arguably Darius Miller before Bledsoe pops back into memory. Whether it was his quiet demeanor or just his being overshadowed by bigger names, Bledsoe was nevertheless as important to that team as anyone.
His athleticism allowed for two great defenders at the guard position and a backup point guard who wouldn't miss a step when Wall wasn't on the court. It's not unlikely that if Wall wasn't there, Bledsoe would have put up similar numbers and would be remembered with more fondness than he is by Kentucky fans.
1. Doron Lamb
If Eric Bledsoe was forgotten about due to playing along side John Wall, how do you think Doron Lamb feels? Having to play with the likes of Brandon Knight, Terrance Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis in two years, Lamb is the most underrated star Kentucky has had.
In fact his performance in the national title game says it all. He scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting while dishing out three assists and playing phenomenal defense. However, that's not what's talked about when fans reminisce about that game. It's Anthony Davis' defensive performance or Kidd-Gilchrist's block to secure the game.
Lamb just went about his business for two years in Lexington. He's the best shooter to play under Calipari at Kentucky and the best shooter the Wildcats have had since Jodie Meeks. Much like Bledsoe, Lamb was a quiet player on the court. He flashed a smile and "three goggles" after a made basket, but he was never flashy.
His lack of NBA success hasn't helped him stay in the minds of Kentucky fans, either. But to his credit, he'll always have his major contributions to two runs to the Final Four, including a national title.
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