These days in Big Blue Nation-land, it’s not unusual to hear chatter about the best Kentucky Wildcats when it comes to players in the John Calipari era.
Since Cal’s arrival back in 2009, so much talent has come through Lexington in a short period of time that it can be easy to forget about the slew of big-time players that graced the Rupp Arena floor prior to that.
Jamie Shaw, national recruiting expert for On3, did a fun little summer exercise where he built a starting five, only choosing UK players from 2000-09.
I like this sweet spot between the Pitino and Calipari years because it eliminates some obvious answers like Anthony Davis and all of the NBA guys from the late 90s dynasty.
Shaw’s starting lineup would receive little argument from me, largely because of who he chose to run the show.
I am a huge Rajon Rondo fan and am constantly banging a drum about how underrated he is, especially when speaking of his NBA career.
Can you imagine Rondo playing point guard alongside some of the very best UK players from other eras?
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound phenom from Louisville finished his career as a two-time NBA champion and four-time NBA-Star who led the league in assists in 2012, 2013, and 2016.
The other four guys selected by Shaw for his starting five were Keith Bogans at shooting guard, Tayshaun Prince playing the three with Chuck Hayes, and Patrick Patterson manning the paint.
Bogans and Prince are both no-brainers.
Keith Bogans could very well be the most underrated Cat in history. The 2003 SEC Player of the Year had a masterful career in Lexington and left as the fourth-leading scorer of all time with just under 2,000 career points.
Not far behind him is Tayshaun Prince, who poured in 1,775 points playing from 98-02. There’s no sell needed for why Prince should be on any all-time list for UK basketball regardless of era, his presence on the floor was always unbelievably impactful.
The tandem of Patterson and Hayes would be hard to match.
But if I were creating a list, I’d throw a curveball and swap out Patrick Patterson for the smooth lefty Erik Daniels. I always loved watching him work in the paint and use his sometimes unorthodox technique to just get straight buckets. In Daniels’ senior year, he took his game to another level, averaging 14.5 points a game.
You can read Jamie Shaw’s entire post below. He breaks down his decisions and adds in his sixth man.
As far as off season fantasy exercises go — this one was pretty awesome.