The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Groups of SLAM’s 30 Years: ’10 Kentucky 


To rejoice SLAM’s thirtieth anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential males’s school groups from our previous 30 years. Stats, data and chips aren’t the primary issue right here, it’s all about their contribution to the sport’s cultural material.

For the following 30 days—Monday by Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full record right here. We’ve additionally received an unique retro collegiate assortment, out now, that pays homage to every squad’s threads. Store right here.

It’s no secret that Kentucky is among the most prestigious school basketball applications of all time and has probably the most demanding fan bases we’ve seen. Kentucky isn’t glad with SEC championships and NCAA Match berths; at Kentucky, the usual is nationwide title competition. Closing 4 and Nationwide Championship banners are the one ones hanging within the rafters at Rupp Enviornment. So, after one other unsuccessful season, which ended with a loss within the NIT, they had been able to undergo hell or excessive water to get again on observe. Kentucky wanted a change, and so they wanted one quick.  

The primary domino that wanted to fall was discovering a head coach who not solely understood the expectations however wasn’t intimidated by the each day pressures of teaching at Kentucky. There was just one man to do the job; forward of the ‘09-’10 season, Kentucky introduced in a fiery John Calipari–a transfer that modified not solely the trajectory of Kentucky’s basketball program however school basketball basically.

Coach Cal didn’t come alone; he introduced within the nation’s high recruiting class–the most effective recruiting courses ever–highlighted by John Wall and Demarcus Cousins. Kentucky’s roster was loaded with expertise that made these Wildcats a must-watch for any basketball fan (except you’re a Louisville fan or a fellow SEC foe). Having expertise is one factor, however getting a bunch of 5 and four-star recruits to play as a unit is the true problem for any coach. However the 2010 Wildcats had been on one accord. Cal applied the dribble-drive offense, which solely works when you will have a number of guys who can beat their man off the bounce. Wall and Eric Bledsoe had no points doing so. Add elite bigs like Cousins and Patrick Patterson to the fold, and there you will have it: probably the most thrilling school groups you could possibly think about.

At any time when the 2010 Wildcats hit the courtroom of their contemporary white and Kentucky-blue threads, two-tone Nike taking pictures sleeves and Nike elite socks, that they had the nation’s consideration. If Kentucky had a sport, you’d schedule your day round it.

For a squad led by a freshman core, Kentucky was mature past their years. Nothing rattled them; no second was too massive. They steamrolled by the always-tough SEC, sweeping each the common season and event championships, together with a bunch of particular person accolades.

Wall was SEC Participant of the 12 months. Cousins was SEC Freshman of the 12 months. Cousins, Patterson and Wall had been first-team All-SEC. Coach Cal was SEC Coach of the 12 months.

Kentucky hadn’t had a season like this in years; the job wasn’t completed, although. From the teaching employees to the final man on the bench to the group managers, everyone who was part of that program embraced the duty at hand–elevating Nationwide Championship banner quantity eight. 

“The last word aim was to win a nationwide championship, that’s all we needed to do,” stated John Wall in a 2016 interview, recapping the 2010 season. “So what we did all season didn’t imply something.”

Kentucky earned a No. 1 seed within the NCAA Match. They obliterated East Tennessee State, Wake Forest and Cornell, respectively, on their option to an Elite Eight berth the place they’d face No. 2-seed West Virginia. By each metric, and most notably the attention check, Kentucky was the higher group. West Virginia is all the time a tricky out, nevertheless it by no means crossed Kentucky’s thoughts that they might lose that sport. Sadly for the Wildcats, they picked the flawed day to have an off-night. They couldn’t purchase a 3, at one level lacking 20 in a row. That’s a tough stretch for any group to beat, particularly in March Insanity. They’d nonetheless find yourself in a detailed sport, however fell seven factors in need of advancing to what would have been this system’s first Closing 4 since 1998. 

Discuss devastated–there wasn’t a dry eye within the locker room after the sport. “‘Til at the present time we nonetheless speak about that sport and all the pieces we may’ve performed otherwise,” stated DeMarcus Cousins in the identical 2016 interview talked about earlier.

Regardless of not residing as much as the expectations they set on themselves, there’s not a single one who wouldn’t name their season a hit. They completed the season 35-3, and Wall and Cousins added first-team All-American honors to their lengthy record of accomplishments. They will not be remembered as nationwide champions; there will not be a 2010 banner hanging at Rupp Enviornment; however this group revolutionized school basketball. 

5 gamers (4 of them freshmen) from this squad would enter the NBA Draft, and all 5 of them had been drafted within the first spherical. Wall was chosen No. 1, Cousins was chosen No. 5, Patterson was chosen No. 14, Bledsoe was chosen No. 18 and Orton went at No. 29. This 2010 Kentucky group, cultivated by Coach Cal, laid the inspiration for the way forward for the game; the ripple impact continues to be felt at the moment over a decade later.    

When you may solely choose one school basketball group from the previous 30 years to symbolize the current era, each on the courtroom and off, it’d be robust to not choose the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.  

Pictures through Getty Photos.


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