It’s not an uncommon occurrence for Kentucky fans to know all there is to know about the players who make up their beloved Wildcat roster. Really, it’s a point of pride, and as Coach Cal has said numerous times, the Big Blue Nation is crazy.
So take that passion and throw in a packed roster full of talented players and, well, this writer thinks it’s fairly safe to say the 2014-15 Wildcats have a solid place in Big Blue History — setting a school and NCAA record with 38 consecutive wins to open the season. That number also tied for most wins in NCAA Division I history with none other two of Coach Cal’s previous teams — the 2008-09 Memphis squad and the 2012 national championship team.
With that in mind, let’s take one more look back at some of the more memorable moments from this year’s crop of Cats, who tied another record previously set by UK with six players selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. Plus, for the players drafted, is anyone really ready to see them sporting a jersey that doesn’t have ‘Kentucky’ across the chest?
Season avgs: 10.9 min, 2.6 pts, 2.7 rbs, 0.7 blks, 64.4 FG%
Memorable moment: Besides stories on Marcus Lee’s fun personality and his big heart, his most memorable moments from this past season are when he’s hanging above the rim and earning his nickname as the “Human Pogo Stick.” The clip above highlights his dunking ability, specifically vs. Auburn on Tony Delk night. Lee had three dunks that night and added eight rebounds.
For the future: Marcus Lee will return to play for the Cats as a junior in the 2015-16 season. Hopefully the California native will have even more opportunities to show off his hops and give the fans in Rupp some highlight dunks.
Season avgs: 21.5 min, 10.0 pts, 2.0 rbs, 1.1 asts, 41.1 3FG%, 82.8 FT%
Memorable moment: Remember that stretch of games where it felt like Devin Booker couldn’t miss a shot? Yeah, so does this writer. The hot-handed freshman will be missed from the “Land of Three-dom” in Rupp Arena, and so will the reload after each made trey.
For the future: Booker was No. 13 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and he will take his talents to the Phoenix Suns joining some of his UK fam — Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and Brandon Knight.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 26, 2015
Season avgs: 25.8 min, 11.0 pts, 2.6 rbs, 1.4 asts, 1.1 stls, 31.6 3FG%, 78.2 FT%
Memorable moment: It’s a proven fact that Aaron Harrison has ice in his veins. OK, well, that might be debatable to some, but Aaron etched his name into Big Blue History his freshman season hitting three game-winning shots in the postseason. He was also the leading scorer on this year’s squad. Having a player as clutch as Aaron Harrison, will be missed.
For the future: Aaron was the only Wildcat who entered his name into the NBA Draft that was not selected in the first two rounds. He’ll be a free agent and attend summer camp with the Charlotte Hornets.
Season avgs: 23.8 min, 5.6 pts, 1.8 rbs, 3.6 asts, 1.0 stls, 42.9 3FG%, 80.8 FT%
Memorable moment: Tyler Ulis has many memorable moments, like all of last season’s Cats do. However, there is one that sticks out to this writer more than most. In true point guard fashion, the above clip is of a crazy no-look, behind-the-back pass to Willie Cauley-Stein for the windmill slam. This particular play made the SportCenter Top 10 that night, for obvious reasons.
For the future: Tyler Ulis will return to UK for his sophomore season. Personally, this writer can’t wait to see what kind of moves Ulis pulls off with next season’s team.
Season avgs: 25.5 min, 9.3 pts, 2.2 rbs, 3.6 asts, 1.0 stls, 38.3 3FG%, 79.2 FT%
Memorable moment: Andrew, like his brother, has given the Big Blue Nation plenty of memorable moments over the past two seasons, but for this writer, this and-one by the veteran point guard is a favorite. His perfectly-timed lobs to the UK big men and ability to command and run the floor will definitely be missed. Still wish he would’ve shared his Coach Cal impression with the media. Or wait, was that his twin?
For the future: Andrew Harrison was selected as the 44th overall pick in the NBA Draft, originally by the Phoenix Suns but he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) June 26, 2015
Season avgs: 21.1 min, 10.3 pts, 6.7 rbs, 1.1 asts, 2.3 blks, 81.3 FT%
Memorable moment: There is most certainly not one memorable moment with Karl-Anthony Towns but, instead, an entire season full of them. Both on and off the court, Towns is one of those players that you never forget getting the chance to work with. A personal favorite — Towns’ tomahawk-style slam vs. Mississippi State, in a (maybe) half-filled Humphrey Coliseum down in a snowy Starkville.
For the future: Karl-Anthony Towns was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is the first Wildcat to ever be selected by the T-Wolves.
— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) June 26, 2015
Season avgs: 25.9 min, 8.9 pts, 6.4 rbs, 1.7 blks, 1.2 stls, 57.2 FG%, 71.2 FT%
Memorable moment: As with most of these players, especially the one who’ve been Wildcats for more than one season, there are so many favorite moments to choose from: dunks, mid-range jumpers, his quotes, personal style, etc. With Willie, there’s just one that stands out above the rest: his high-flying jam vs. Florida in Gainesville. The game was close pre-dunk but after it was just the spark the Cats needed to go on and get win No. 23.
For the future: Willie Cauley-Stein was selected No. 6 overall in the NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. If you haven’t checked out the Kings’ social media regarding their new pick, you’re missing out.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) June 27, 2015
Season avgs (8 games): 20.3 min, 5.5 pts, 3.8 rbs, 1.5 blks, 85.7 FT%
Memorable moment: With Alex Poythress the most memorable moment from this past season was finding out he tore his ACL in practice. But Cal has said plenty of times that he’s doing fine and his recovery is going well. Hopefully this next season AP has many more SportsCenter-worthy dunks like the one above.
For the future: Alex Poythress will return for his senior season. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree this season and will now attend graduate school at UK.
Season avgs: 7.1 min, 1.3 pts, 0.7 rbs, 0.6 asts, 23.8 3FG%
Memorable moment: OK, the most memorable thing about Dominique Hawkins is probably his smile and his personality. On the court, he’s usually throwing up lobs or hitting a 3 to send Rupp into a tizzy. One of the craziest moments though — the dunk (gif-ed above). Who knew D-Hawk had hops? The guys on the team knew, but that night vs. Boston University, everyone watching the game learned that Dominique could dunk.
For the future: Dominique Hawkins will return to UK for his junior season. This writer is looking forward to him catching some air next season too.
Season avgs: 3.9 min, 1.3 pts, 0.7 rbs, 38.9 FG%, 33.3 3FG%
Memorable moment: Derek Willis is better known for shooting 3’s rather than dunking, but this windmill vs. Georgetown College is one not easily forgotten.
For the future: Derek Willis will return to UK for his junior season as well.
Season avgs: 23.0 min, 8.7 pts, 5.2 rbs, 48.8 FG%, 73.5 FT%
Memorable moment: Trey Lyles can do a little bit of everything on the court, which is why Cal called him the X-factor for the team. His mid-range game was solid all season and he can throw down around the rim. Let’s not forget about the whole #WhereIsTrey phenomenon, too.
For the future: Trey Lyles was selected No. 12 overall in the NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) June 26, 2015
Season avgs: 16.3 min, 6.4 pts, 4.6 rbs, 0.9 blks, 50.6 FG%, 62.5 FT%
Memorable moment: Dakari Johnson has given the Big Blue Nation plenty of reasons to laugh and cheer over the past two seasons. Notably, the big man made the extra effort to lose weight prior to the 2014-15 season. It showed when the 7-footer ran the court, calling for a lob and getting the dunk. His free-throw shooting improved as well, but we all know his home was around the rim.
For the future: Dakari Johnson was selected as the No. 48 pick overall in the NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’ll join former Wildcat Enes Kanter in OKC.
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) June 26, 2015
Kentucky is now the 1st school with three No. 1 overall picks in NBA Draft history. pic.twitter.com/nCHFLEMl1s
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 25, 2015
The team didn’t bring home banner No. 9 back to the Bluegrass, but they did make history, multiple times. Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened!”
For Big Blue Nation — smile because this team happened, and this writer doubts they’ll be one to forget.