Hello, all! Can you believe this wild ride we’ve been on for the past 10 years? Yes, 10 years.
Crazy, isn’t it?
John Calipari took over as head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats in April of 2009 and coached his first game in November of 2009. Now, it doesn’t take me to tell you that Coach Cal was the coach at Kentucky for the entirety of the 2010’s, which is one of the longest tenures at Kentucky for a head coach.
Being here for 10 years, Cal re-invented the program. Ushering in the one-and-done era and changing the way college basketball was played and recruited. That also means that a literal boat-load of star players have played at Kentucky in that time period.
With multiple SEC titles, four final fours, and a national title in 10 seasons at Kentucky, this has certainly been the best run since the mid-to-late 90’s with Pitino at the helm.
So, what better way to reminisce about the past decade than with the official Kentucky basketball all-decade team.
I will be choosing two players for each position and I will factor in college play and collegiate accomplishments only. Let’s get started.
Starting Point Guard: John Wall
John Wall was the player who single handily brought Kentucky back from the grave post-Billy G.
Wall was an instant star and took over the nation with his now-famous ‘John Wall’ dance. Wall led Kentucky to an SEC tournament and regular season title and eventually led Kentucky to an Elite Eight appearance. Wall averaged 16.6 ppg and 6.5 apg in his time at UK.
Wall won the SEC Freshman and Player of the Year, and SEC tournament MVP awards and was named a Consensus First-team All-American.
Backup Point ‘God’: Tyler Ulis
The Point God himself, Tyler Ulis, made himself a legend at Kentucky in 2016. Coming back for his sophomore campaign, Ulis was ready to lead a Kentucky team coming off a 38-1 season with a lot of fresh faces.
Paired with Jamal Murray, Ulis and Murray provided one of the more exciting back-courts in UK history.
Despite his size, Ulis was the best, and hardest working, player on the floor each and every game, which is why he won the Kentucky fan base over.
In his second season, Ulis won SEC player and Defensive Player of the Year, along with being the first UK point guard ever to win the Bob Cousy award. Ulis also added Consensus First-team All-American and SEC Tournament MVP to his resume.
Starting Shooting Guard: Jamal Murray
Pairing alongside John Wall is one of the best shooters, if not the best, in UK history. In his one season at Kentucky, Jamal Murray hit 113 threes, shot 40% from three, and averaged 20 ppg.
Murray is underrated for his time at UK, but his recent NBA success has people seeing just how good he truly was, and always has been. The back-court teammate to Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe, Murray is only in one other man’s company as the best scorer of the past decade at Kentucky. I will get to him momentarily.
Murray was 2015-16 SEC All-Freshman and 2015-16 All-SEC First Team.
Murray was taken with the No. 7 overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in 2016.
Backup Shooting Guard: Malik Monk
I feel sorry for whoever has to guard this team because they will not be able to. Malik Monk is the only player that could rival Jamal Murray’s scoring ability and the ability to hit shots from anywhere on the court.
Monk averaged 19.8 ppg in his one season at UK and shot 39.7% from three while hitting 104 threes. All three of those numbers are comparable with Jamal Murray’s.
Monk won 2016-17 SEC Player and Rookie of the Year as well as being named a 2016-17 SEC All-Freshman and All-SEC First-team. Monk also won the Jerry West award and was named a Consensus second-team All-American.
Monk was taken with the 11th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Starting Small Forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
This starting five has to have some defensive prowess and that’s what MKG will bring to the table. MKG was not a scorer by any means, but he did hustle and made sure that your teams best player was not going to even sniff the basket.
In his one season at Kentucky, MKG averaged 12 ppg and added 7.4 rebounds per game, 1 steal per game, and 1 block per game.
MKG was named a 2011-12 First-Team All-SEC player as well as SEC All-Defense. MKG was also a Consensus Second-Team All-American and was a Wooden Award Finaist, which he eventually lost to one of his teammates, who will appear later on the list.
MKG was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets (Bobcats.)
Backup Small Forward: PJ Washington
Just one season removed from his time at UK, PJ Washington was a dominant force last season for Kentucky, getting to the point where he literally could not be stopped.
PJ made the choice to return to UK for his sophomore season and completely transformed, not only his game, but his body.
PJ became a lethal threat from outside the arc for UK, becoming a hybrid stretch-four to a true small forward. His shooting ability truly sets him apart in my roster because he’s a mismatch for anyone with his skill to hit from the outside as well as his unstoppable turn around hook in the paint.
Last season, PJ averaged 15.2 ppg to go along with 7.5 rebounds per game, all while shooting a cool 42% from three-point range.
In his final season at UK, Washington was a 2018-19 All-SEC First-Team selection as well as a Wooden Award finalist.
Starting Power Forward: Anthony Davis
I mean, he’s the best player in Kentucky history and it ain’t even close. I can’t really say anything else about AD that hasn’t already been said.
AD averaged 14.2 ppg, 10.4 rebounds per game, and 4.7 blocks per game. He also took the fifth most shots on that Kentucky team.
AD led Kentucky to their first national title since 1998, capping off one of the greatest seasons in college basketball history.
His awards are even more insane: 2011-12 All-SEC First-Team, 2011-12 AP Player of the Year, 2011-12 Naismith Award, 2011-12 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2011-12 SEC Rookie of the Year, 2011-12 SEC Player of the Year, 2011-12 Wooden Award Winner, 2011-12 Consensus First-Team All-American, 2012 Final Four MOP.
Davis was taken by the New Orleans Pelicans (Hornets) with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Backup Power Forward: Julius Randle
Julius Randle is underrated for his time at Kentucky and he doesn’t get as much love as he should.
In his time at UK, Randle averaged 15 ppg and 10.4 rebounds per game. He also holds the record for most double-double’s in a season at UK with 24.
Randle was a go-to inside presence for the 2013-14 squad. The man was built to oblivion and bullied anyone who got in his way.
Randle was a 2013-14 All-SEC First-Team selection, 2013-14 SEC Rookie of the Year, 2013-14 SEC All-Freshman, and a Wooden Award finalist.
Randle was taken by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Starting Center: Willie Cauley-Stein
Good luck trying to score anything in the paint on this team. Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the best defensive players in the history of UK, only Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel are a better shot blocker than WCS.
But what set WCS apart from traditional bigs was his ability to guard the perimeter and be able to switch on to smaller players.
In his time at UK, WCS averaged 8 ppg, 6.2rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game.
WCS also has an insane list of accolades at Kentucky: 2012-13 SEC All-Freshman, 2013-14 SEC All-Defense, 2014-15 All-SEC First-Team, 2014-15 NABC DPoY, 2014-15 SEC DPoY, 2014-15 Consensus First-Team All-American, 2015 SEC Tournament MVP, 2014-15 Wooden Award Finalist, etc.
WCS was taken with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Backup Center: DeMarcus Cousins
This final spot was a toss up for me between Boogie and KAT. They both play the same position and I could only choose one, so I chose Boogie based on his stats and accolades.
Boogie averaged 15.1 ppg and 9.8 rebounds per game, compared to KAT’s 10.3 ppg and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Boogie was a 2009-10 All-SEC First-Team selection, 2009-10 SEC Rookie of the Year, 2009-10 Wooden Award Finalist, and a 2009-10 Consensus Second-Team All-American.
The only collegiate advantage that KAT holds over Boogie is that KAT was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, whereas Boogie was taken with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
This is my Kentucky All-Decade team. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think.