THE RULES:I started by limiting the criteria to players who played against Kentucky in the SEC between 2010 and 2019, because we only have 11 slots on the roster—and otherwise, Joakim Noah would take up at least six of them. I aimed for fair representation of the conference, but it naturally skewed toward our biggest rivals (Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas) and those dorks at Vanderbilt. Four (extremely scientific) criteria were used in the player selection, described here in ascending order of importance:
- LONGEVITY—how often did we stop and say, “how is he STILL in school?”
- PERFORMANCE—how well did they play against UK? (including stats and win-loss record)
- BIG MOMENT RATING (BMR)—did they get it done when it counted?
- PUNCHABILITY—on a scale of 1-10, how much did I want to punch them in the face?
STARTERS:[caption id="attachment_299712" align="aligncenter" width="594"] [Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America][/caption]
PG: Devan Downey, South CarolinaYears: 3 (2008-10) Record vs. UK: 3-3 (22.6 ppg) BMR: 9.5 Punchability: LOW How could we start anywhere else? Downey cemented his place in the UK Villains Hall of Fame in January 2010 when he dropped 30 points on the undefeated No. 1 'Cats down in Columbia, handing John Calipari his first-ever loss at Kentucky, just hours after the world was graced with the quote, “Hello Mr. President, this is DeMarcus Cousins.” BIGGEST MOMENT: Downey always dominated the Cats, scoring 20 or more in five of six games against Kentucky in his career—but stifling John Wall & co. will always be his most memorable legacy in fans’ eyes. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Outside of eight games with the G-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants in 2012, Downey has had a spotty professional career across Europe. He last played for the Venezuelan team Gigantes de Guayana in 2019.
[caption id="attachment_299739" align="aligncenter" width="594"] [Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America][/caption]
SG: Scottie Wilbekin, FloridaYears: 4 (2011-14) Record vs. UK: 5-6 (8.2 ppg) BMR: 4.5 Punchability: HIGH Wilbekin deserves a spot on this list for persistence alone. The Turkish-American point guard sat on the bench at Florida for two years behind NBA-bound talents like Bradley Beal and Chandler Parsons before helping the team reach a third consecutive Elite Eight as a junior. In 2014, he became the senior leader of the 36-3 Gators team that ran through the SEC before losing to UConn in the Final Four. He cemented his villain status by earning SEC Player of the Year over Julius Randle. BIGGEST MOMENT: Wilbekin went 4-1 against UK as a starter, handing the Cats two of the worst conference losses of the Calipari era in 2013 and ’14, respectively. He led all scorers with 14 points and eight assists in the game Nerlens Noel got hurt. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: A successful career in Europe, highlighted by winning the 2018 EuroCup Championship and winning league MVP with the Turkish club Darüssafaka. If you enjoy heavily remixed Lincoln Park songs, I strongly recommend this clip of Wilbekin’s highlights with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel this year.
[caption id="attachment_299716" align="aligncenter" width="594"] [Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America][/caption]
SF: Jeffery Taylor, VanderbiltYears: 4 (2009-12) Record vs. UK: 3-6 (13.7 ppg) BMR: 6.0 Punchability: MED Known as a versatile defensive stopper, Taylor was a thorn in UK’s side for four years under Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt. He beat Kentucky three times while in school, which is probably more than most of the other players in Vandy history can say. Out of all of Stallings' minions, Taylor was the worst. BIGGEST MOMENT: Posting 18 points and 11 rebounds against Anthony Davis in the 2012 SEC Tournament championship, giving the Cats their only SEC loss of the season—but we know how that ended. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Taylor was drafted 31st in the 2012 NBA draft (exactly 30 spots behind Davis) and played three seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s played for Real Madrid in Spain ever since.
PF: Grant Williams, TennesseeYears: 3 (2017-19) Record vs. UK: 5-3 (15.5 ppg) BMR: 8.5 Punchability: MED Freakin’ Grant Williams. The two-time SEC Player of the Year (PJ Washington is probably still bitter) was at the forefront of the Rick Barnes Renaissance at Tennessee, leading the Vols to two NCAA tournaments, one Sweet 16, and five hard-fought wins against Kentucky. He also flopped a lot. BIGGEST MOMENT: Scoring 24 points with seven rebounds in a 19-point drubbing over the Reid Travis-less Cats in Knoxville in 2019. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: He was drafted 22nd overall in 2019 and currently
[caption id="attachment_299718" align="aligncenter" width="594"] [Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport][/caption]
C: A.J. Ogilvy, VanderbiltYears: 3 (2008-10) Record vs. UK: 2-3 (14.2 ppg) BMR: 5.0 Punchability: VERY HIGH No player embodies the obnoxious UK villain for me better than A.J. Ogilvy. His name is one of those that instantly brings back memories of gritted teeth and bitterness in my mind (hence the punchability rating, which is off the charts here). I don’t even remember a single specific thing he did against Kentucky, but I couldn’t bring myself to put anyone else in this slot. BIGGEST MOMENT: Apparently, he had 19 points and 12 rebounds against Billy Gillespie’s Cats in 2008, in UK’s worst loss since 1989 (final score: 52-93). Yikes. Can you blame me for blocking this memory out? WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: The 6-11 Australian has bounced around professional leagues overseas, playing everywhere from Sydney to Valencia, Spain. He currently plays for the Illawarra Hawks in Greece, where he spends his time making weird faces with former Cat Isaac Humphries. [caption id="attachment_299719" align="aligncenter" width="600"] (Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac)[/caption]
BENCH:[caption id="attachment_299725" align="aligncenter" width="594"] [Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America][/caption]
G: Rotnei Clarke, ArkansasYears: 3 (2009-11) Record vs. UK: 1-2 (17.0 ppg) BMR: 4.5 Punchability: HIGH How could anyone forget Rotnei Clarke? The 6-foot sharpshooter was highly recruited out of high school, turning down an offer from Gillespie and UK to play for Arkansas. In 2009, he set a school record for the Razorbacks with 51 points against Alcorn State, hitting an SEC-record 13 threes in the process. He transferred to Butler after three years, but not before firmly establishing his place as an all-time SEC Villain. BIGGEST MOMENT: He scored 26 points in a one-point overtime victory against Kentucky in February 2011. It was UK’s fourth consecutive road loss at the time, and the last game they would lose until the Final Four. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Clarke has played professionally in Australia, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. While playing with Pompea Mantova in Lombardy this year, he and his family had a narrow escape from the Italian coronavirus wave.
[caption id="attachment_299749" align="aligncenter" width="800"] [Photo: Don McPeak/USA TODAY Sports][/caption]
G: Marshall Henderson, Ole MissYears: 2 (2013-14) Record vs. UK: 0-3 (18.3 ppg) BMR: 6.5 Punchability: HIGH Henderson came seemingly out of nowhere in 2013. He transferred to Ole Miss out of junior college and promptly led the SEC in scoring with 20.1 points per game, leading the Rebels to an unlikely NCAA Tournament berth after scorching through the SEC Tournament. His hot-shooting and cockiness gave fans a memorable source of entertainment during a down year for the Cats. BIGGEST MOMENT: He never beat UK, but he did put up 21 points in the famous Nerlens Noel 12-block game and drove fans crazy with that stupid tongue-out, landshark gesture. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Henderson went undrafted in 2014 and never played in the NBA, but he has had a long professional career overseas. In 2018, Bleacher Report’s Jason King caught up with him for this profile on his struggle to re-vamp his image after college. [caption id="attachment_299726" align="aligncenter" width="418"] [Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America][/caption]
G: Stefan Moody, Ole MissYears: 2 (2015-16) Record vs. UK: 0-2 (24.0 ppg) BMR: 8.5 Punchability: LOW Let’s be clear: if you judged careers on a game-by-game basis, Stefan Moody would already be in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his performances against Kentucky. Over two matchups in 2015 and 2016, Moody racked up 48 points, shooting 7-12 from three-point range and 13-13 from the line. He absolutely could not miss. If it weren’t for the small sample size (and relatively low punchability), he’d be starting on this squad. BIGGEST MOMENT: *Almost* ending UK’s 2015 perfect season in January, pushing the “Undefeatables” to overtime in Rupp Arena with 25 points. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: A few years in the Turkish and Greek leagues, plus a three-game run at The Basketball Tournament (TBT) in 2018 that ended with an “Elam Ending” defeat against Boeheim’s Army.
[caption id="attachment_299730" align="aligncenter" width="396"] [Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America][/caption]
C: Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi StateYears: 4 (2007-10) Record vs. UK: 3-3 (7.7 ppg) BMR: 5.0 Punchability: MED Varnado was THE villain during UK’s short-lived rivalry with Mississippi State in the 2010 season, highlighted by his part in the DeMarcus Cousin “Call Me” game and the SEC Championship rematch. The lanky big man was a defensive menace for the Bulldogs, finishing his four years as the NCAA’s all-time blocked shots leader with 564 career swats. BIGGEST MOMENT: With 18 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks, Varnado was *this close* to punching a ticket to the big dance. Whoops. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Varnado was drafted 41st in 2010 but signed to play in Italy instead. He’s spent the last decade bouncing between European teams, the G-League, and a few stints in the NBA. After winning a ring with the Miami Heat in 2013, he was last seen playing in Israel.
G: Riley LaChance, VanderbiltYears: 4 (2015-18) Record vs. UK: 1-6 (9.0 ppg) BMR: 1.0 Punchability: VERY HIGH At the beginning of this post, I said that one of the criteria for making this list was performing in clutch moments against UK. I’m happy to say that Riley LaChance is the exception. The hot-shooting point guard was a four-year starter for the Commodores and led the conference in three-point percentage as a junior, but is likely best remembered by Kentucky fans for missing four straight crunch-time free throws to gift the Wildcats two wins in 2018. Thanks for that, Riley! BIGGEST MOMENT: With apologies to the free-throw line bungles, I have to go with the time he let Quade Green stroll to the basket to win a game in overtime with a wide-open layup. We miss you, Quade. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Since LaChance doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, it’s hard to say. But I’d like to use this space to point out that if you Google “Riley LaChance nickname,” I kid you not, this is what comes up:
[caption id="attachment_299744" align="aligncenter" width="600"] [Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America][/caption]
G/F: Michael Qualls, ArkansasYears: 3 (2013-15) Record vs. UK: 3-2 (14.0 ppg) BMR: 8.0 Punchability: HIGH If you were watching the SportsCenter Top 10 on January 14, 2014… I’m sorry. Qualls made himself famous in UK villain lore for one play: a put-back dunk at the buzzer to beat the #14 Cats in Fayetteville. A solid three-year player, he made a habit of going off against UK, to the tune of 17 points per game over their last four matchups—including an embarrassing season sweep in 2014. BIGGEST MOMENT: The dunk. Side note: according to Arkansas’ official athletics website, Qualls made the #SCTop10 13 times. That has to be a record for someone named Qualls, right? WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Qualls declared for the NBA after his junior season, but unfortunately tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout and never played in the league. He played professionally for three years in Israel, Italy, the Philippines, and the G-League. He also competed for Team Arkansas in the 2018 TBT.
HONORABLE MENTIONS:J.J. Frazier, Georgia; Bryce Brown/Jared Harper, Auburn; Tim Quarterman, LSU; Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee; Alex Caruso, Texas A&M; Tasmin Mitchell, LSU; Sebastian Saiz, Ole Miss; Johnny O’Bryant, LSU; Wayne Chism, Tennessee; and the One Guy from LSU who did that goaltending BS.
[caption id="attachment_299746" align="aligncenter" width="594"] Calathes (second from right) with Coach Billy Donovan. [Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America][/caption]
COACH: Nick Calathes, FloridaYears: 2 (2008-09) Record vs. UK: 2-2 (19.5 ppg) BMR: 2.0 Punchability: HIGHER THAN SNOOP DOGG Technically, Calathes’ last season was 2009, so he’s ineligible for this team. But I make the rules here, so I’m putting him in as the coach. I think it’s only fair. Meanwhile, I’ll use this space to point out that he’s one of the few players in college basketball history to match his coach’s haircut perfectly (see above). BIGGEST MOMENT: In case you’ve forgotten, Calathes was Riley LaChance before Riley LaChance. In January 2009, he scored a career-high 33 points against Kentucky and had a chance to send the game to overtime with three free throws after an ill-timed foul by Kevin Galloway. He missed all three. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Calathes set quite a precedent by opting to follow his Greek roots after college despite being viewed as a potential first-round pick or a player of the year candidate if he returned for his junior season. Instead, he joined Panathinaikos, the very same club that would later be led to glory by Rick Pitino. He eventually made his way to the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013 but returned to Greece after two years. His hairline has suffered.
That’s the SEC all-villain team for the last decade of UK basketball. What players did we miss, and who’s in your starting lineup?