All this week I am discussing a topic that is a popular one on this site and amongst UK fans: jersey retirement. UK has not retired the jersey of a player that has played at the school since 1993 (Mashburn). But, in the last 20 years, certainly there have been quite a few great players to come through Lexington, and I feel there are FIVE that have earned a jersey retirement. I have already hit on 3: Tayshaun Prince, Tony Delk, and Keith Bogans. But, as a part of this post, I also argue against 1 player day, not to minimalize that player’s career, but to highlight that this achievement is truly for the best of the best careers, and some guys just don’t stack up with the legends. Already, I have argued against Wayne Turner, Rex Chapman, and Chuck Hayes. Here is the schedule for the rest of the week and the posts from Monday and Tuesday:
: Tony Delk (IN) and Wayne Turner (OUT)
: Tayshaun Prince (IN) and Rex Chapman (OUT)
: Keith Bogans (IN) and Chuck Hayes (OUT)
FRIDAY: John Wall and Anthony Davis
Now, before we get into today’s 2 players, I feel like I should clarify what I consider important to getting your jersey retired. My criteria are fairly simple:
-I think individual stats and accolades are significantly more important than team success. It doesn’t mean that winning a title doesn’t help some, but if you were an average player on a title team, I don’t think it boosts you into legend status. I call this the Cameron Mills argument.
-A player’s “likeability” has no sway for me. Rajon Rondo was not well-liked while at UK, but belongs up there more than Ramel Bradley does.
-NBA success has NO EFFECT whatsoever. If had an effect, then we would have to also take out the NBA busts. I don’t think Ron Mercer should be damaged by what he did after UK.
With that said, let’s look at the 2 players for today: PATRICK PATTERSON AND JODIE MEEKS
LET HIM IN (Patrick Patterson)
The Individual Numbers
Points: 1,564 (13th all-time)
Rebounds: 791 (13th all-time)
Blocks: 152 (8th all-time)
The Team Numbers
SEC Champions: 1 (2010)
SEC Tournament Champions: 1 (2010)
All-SEC 1st Team: 2 (2009 and 2010)
All-SEC 2nd Team: 1 (2008)
SEC Freshman of the Year: 1 (2008)
Patrick Patterson has the numbers to put him in the rafters. A Top 20 scorer in just 3 seasons, which is somewhat amazing because Patterson never led UK in scoring in any of his 3 seasons. But nonetheless, Patterson stepped onto campus and immediately became an impact player for the Cats, especially in a time where the program was floundering. While his first two teams experienced limited wins, that junior year is likely what pushes Patterson over the top for me, even without a Final Four. You could watch Patterson and see something special. An All-SEC player each of his 3 seasons. I feel there may be a small portion of the fanbase who would disagree with Patterson, likely because of no Final Four, but he made enough of an impact on and off the court to deserve inclusion.
KEEP HIM OUT (Jodie Meeks)
The Individual Numbers
Points: 1,246 (35th all-time)
Steals: 86 (40th all-time)
3-pointers: 177 (8th all-time)
The Team Numbers
All-American 2nd team: 1 (2009)
All-SEC 1st-team: 1 (2009)
Jodie Meeks 2009 season is probably one of the 5 best individual seasons in UK history. He scored the 2nd most points in any year in UK history, and that was without playing in the NCAA Tournament. He was incredibly well-liked by the fanbase and stayed out of trouble off the court. But, in Meeks case, he actually was harmed by the first 2 years of his career. His freshman season was a very average year, and his sophomore year he was plagued by injuries the entire season. If you only took Meeks junior year into consideration, he would be in the rafters. If Meeks was a one and done player, and that year was 2009, Meeks would be there. But, that's not how it went. Meeks 3-year career has to be taken into full consideration, and the career just does not stack up.
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