Convoluted here, but why not? I went back through the all-time NBA Draft and tried to pick the best player from U of L, UK and IU, or native to the state of Kentucky, to come up with the best player picked in each of the top 14 positions in the NBA Draft.
In other words, who was the best No. 1 to come from that group? The best No. 2? Etc.
Here’s what I got (your corrections and input welcome).
1. Walt Bellamy (IU) — An NBA Hall of Famer who averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game over 14 seasons. Others: Kent Benson (IU), Pervis Ellison (U of L). John Wall (UK) to come?
2. Wes Unseld (U of L) — Hall of Famer who won the league’s MVP award as a rookie and still is the No. 10 rebounder in NBA history. Others: Isiah Thomas (IU), Darrell Griffith (U of L), Charlie Tyra (U of L), Scott May (IU), Sam Bowie (UK), Alex Groza (UK).
3. Elmore Smith (Kentucky State) — The 7-footer twice led the NBA in blocked shots and Basketballreference.com gives him the No. 1 career defensive rating in NBA history. He averaged 13.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in a career that spanned from 1971 to 1979 from Buffalo to Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Others: Rodney McCray (U of L), Rick Robey (UK), Clem Haskins (WKU).
4. Jamal Mashburn (UK) — Running unopposed. An easy choice!
5. Frank Ramsey (UK) — A 7-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer. Other: Kenny Walker (UK).
6. Antoine Walker (UK) — Others: Ron Mercer (UK), Felton Spencer (U of L), Melvin Turpin (UK).
7. Pat Riley (UK) — Others: Quinn Buckner (IU), Eric Gordon (IU)
8. Junior Bridgeman (U of L) — Others: Rex Chapman (UK), Wah Wah Jones (UK), Lancaster Gordon (U of L).
9. Samaki Walker (U of L) — Only player picked in this spot.
10. Butch Beard (U of L) — 1 time all star and NBA champion. Others: Clarence Glover (WKU), Ralph Beard (UK), would’ve been No. 1 but his career was cut short by ban from basketball.
11. Cliff Hagan (UK) — A six-time All-Star and NBA Hall of Famer. Others: Terrence Williams (U of L), Bob Wilkerson (IU), Jared Jeffries (IU).
12. Mike Woodson (IU) — Other: Cotton Nash (UK).
13. Derek Anderson (UK) — Other: Travis Grant (Ky State),
14. Tellis Frank (WKU) — Other: Earl Clark (U of L).