The 2005 Kentucky Wildcats basketball team was great. Led by Wildcat legends Patrick Sparks and Rajon Rondo, the Cats made it all the way to the Elite 8, where they eventually lost to Michigan State in overtime.
That team was loaded under Tubby Smith. Players like Randolph Morris, Chuck Hayes, Ramel Bradley, Kelenna Azubuike and Joe Crawford will always be remembered by this fan base.
But, could you imagine if they had they had a player like James Gist on the team?
Gist is one of the all-time greats in Maryland basketball. He was a force on both ends of the ball and would have made a great addition to the 2005 roster and beyond.
Unfortunately, there were a few mishaps with his recruitment that resulted in him not being interested in joining Kentucky that season. He discussed what happened on a local Maryland Basketball podcast, reported by 247:
“I really wanted to go to Kentucky, really want to go to Kentucky to play for Tubby Smith,” Gist said. “But that year they only had one scholarship and they came and talked to me and stuff like that. And they said that they wanted to offer Dwight Howard a scholarship and I was like man, you know Dwight’s going to the league from high school, right? It was like, ‘Well, we got to try,’ and I was like, ‘Damn. Well, I mean, if y’all going to take that chance, I ain’t that important.’ So, you know, I got out of it, like, move my time somewhere else, man.”
Gist went on to be 21st in Maryland history in scoring, 10th in rebounding, and fourth in blocked shots. He also went on to have a lengthy professional career, spending most of his time overseas.
Oh, what could have been. Not only would he have made an impact on that 2005 team but he could have been a force down low for some of the last Tubby teams we saw at UK.