archive photos courtesy of the University of Kentucky Athletics Department
Jack “Goose” Givens will forever be remembered as the hero of Kentucky’s 1978 National Championship team. In the NCAA championship game against Duke, Givens famously scored a career-high 41 points to lead UK to a 94-88 win and the Cats 5th National Championship. He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in the Helms Foundation 1978 Player of the Year.
It was the perfect ending to a storybook career for the Lexington native, who left UK as one of only 3 players to ever score over 2,000 points. Givens still ranks 3rd on UK’s all-time career scoring list. His #21 jersey proudly hangs from the rafters at Rupp Arena. After UK, Givens spent two seasons in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks after they drafted him with the 16th overall pick in the 1978 draft. He also played two years of professional basketball in Japan.
Givens currently lives in Northern Kentucky with his wife, Linda. He’s the Vice-President of Business Development for Bowlin Group, LLC, which is an infrastructure construction company that builds energy and communications networks for utility, cell and cable companies.
“Playing basketball at the University of Kentucky was an awesome experience that was even more special because I grew up 20 minutes from the campus,” Givens said. “There is not another college program in the country that holds their former basketball players in such high esteem. For this, I am very grateful, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play basketball at the University of Kentucky!”
Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball out of Bryan Station High School in 1974
PARADE High School All-American
Only 1 of 3 players to ever score over 2,000 career points at UK
Ranks 3rd on UK’s career scoring list with 2,038 points
Named 1st team All-SEC three times
Named 2nd team All-American in 1978
1978 Helms Foundation Player of the Year
His #21 jersey is retired to the rafters of Rupp Arena
16th overall pick in the 1978 NBA DraftPlayed 2 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, then played in Japan
Kyle Macy is regarded as one of the best point guards and one of the most popular basketball players in the history of the University of Kentucky. After being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1975, Macy started as a Freshman at Purdue before transferring to Kentucky, where his legacy lives to this day.
Macy led the Cats to the 1978 NCAA championship. He was named Consensus All-American and was the first UK player ever to be named Consensus SEC Player of the Year during his senior year. During his three year UK career, Macy was named All-American and All-SEC every year. Macy was a first round pick in the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns and spent 7 years playing in the NBA and 3 years playing in Italy.
After his playing days were over, Macy retired to live in Lexington to raise his family. He has worked as a sports broadcaster, including a stint on the UK radio network and is also producing his own TV show, “From the Rafters of Rupp”. Macy is currently an assistant basketball coach at Transylvania University and a tennis coach at Lexington Christian Academy. He also served as head coach when his team at Morehead State won the OVC championship in 2003; he served as their coach for a decade.
“My four years at the University of Kentucky as a student-athlete were some of the best years of my life,” Macy said. “I honestly couldn’t have imagined or even written a script any better for how things turned out during my time at UK. Looking back, I am very proud that I not only played on a national championship team but also earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Kentucky. These memories from my time at UK–both on and off the court–I cherish the most!”
Macy added, “As for the Big Blue Nation, it still amazes me that even now, 40 years later, UK fans continue to recognize me and recall specific games I played in just like it was yesterday!”
Mr. Basketball in Indiana in 1975
Started as a Freshman at Purdue
Consensus SEC Player of the Year in 1980
SEC Male Athlete of the Year in 1980
Consensus 1st team All-American in 1980
3rd team All-American in 1979
Spent 7 years in the NBA and 3 years playing in Italy
Elected to Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001
His #4 jersey is retired to the rafters of Rupp Arena
Few UK basketball players have been more beloved during their playing days and thereafter than Sam Bowie. Following an incredible high school career in Pennsylvania–where he was named a McDonald’s and PARADE All-American–“Big Sam” spent five years on the UK campus from 1979-1984, even though injuries limited him to only three seasons on the court. After a stellar freshman season, Bowie was picked to play in the United States Olympic team: the team was unable to compete due to the 1980 Olympics boycott. During his sophomore season, Bowie was named consensus 2nd team All-American after averaging over 17 points and 9 rebounds a game.
Bowie then had to miss the next two years battling leg injuries. He came back for his senior season and led the Cats to the 1984 Final Four. Bowie was then famously picked with the #2 overall selection in the 1984 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, one pick ahead of Michael Jordan. Bowie battled more leg injuries during his 10-year NBA career.
Bowie has lived in Lexington since his retirement from basketball, where he raised his family. After a stint as the color analyst on the UK basketball radio network, Bowie says, “These days I’m retired and enjoying watching my children grow up to be wonderful adults.”
Big Sam added, “Being a Kentucky Wildcat has been a tremendous honor, and I feel truly blessed to have been able to represent the BBN.”
McDonald’s and PARADE All-American in high school
Picked to the 1980 Olympic basketball team
Consensus 2nd team All-American in 1981
2nd team All-American in 1984
2nd overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft
NBA All-Rookie 1st team in 1985
Played 10 seasons in the NBA
His #31 jersey is retired to the rafters at Rupp Arena
Valerie Still is not just the single greatest women’s basketball player in Kentucky history, she’s one of the best to ever play women’s college basketball. Still is the all-time scoring leader at Kentucky–male or female–with 2,763 points. It’s a record most feel will never be broken. She’s also UK’s career rebounding leader. Simply put, Valerie Still is the best to ever wear the blue and white, which is an incredible accomplishment considering she was among the first to receive a college basketball scholarship under Title IX.
After her college playing days were over, Still played professionally in Italy for 12 years, winning a national championship along the way. Still also played professionally for the Columbus Quest, where she won 2 titles and was twice named MVP of the Championship series. She finished her career playing for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA.
Still is currently living in New Jersey as a Public Information Officer/ Director of Communications for the Palmyra School District. She is also CEO of the Dr. Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy. Her son, Aaron, is a 2nd class (junior) at the US Naval Academy. Her memoirs will be released this spring.
“In everything that I have done, achieved or experienced while at UK, I always put it in the context of the experiences of my ancestors, Levin Jr. and Peter, who were sold as property to a man in Lexington, KY, at the beginning of the 19th century when African Americans were enslaved in America,” Still said. “For me to return to Lexington nearly 200 years after they were in bondage and be able to excel to the level I have at UK in terms of athletics pays homage to them and recognizes them. If it wasn’t for their sacrifices, I would not have had the opportunity to do what I did at UK.”
Still added, “As a young, naive girl, pre-Title IX, whose passion was playing basketball on the outdoor playground of Camden, NJ, I never could have orchestrated a narrative that would have me receiving a scholarship to one of the most prominent college basketball dynasties in the world and then breaking and still holding the most prestigious records of most points and rebounds at that school. On top of that, it being the place of enslavement for my ancestors makes it even more powerful.”
She concluded, “Lexington, KY, and the University of Kentucky is a special place for me, it will always hold special meaning for me, not because of the records I set there but because of the love and relationships I was able to develop in my years while playing there and still maintain today.”
Among 1st to receive scholarship under Title IX
UK’s all-time career scoring leader–male or female
UK’s all-time career rebounding leader
Played for Team USA in 1980, 1981 & 1982
Played professionally in Italy for 12 years
Won a National Championship in Italy
Twice named MVP of the ABL Championship Series
Played in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics
College basketball Hall of Fame nominee
Brandon Webb is largely considered the best pitcher in the history of the University of Kentucky. Webb earned a baseball scholarship to UK after an outstanding career at Paul Blazer High School in Ashland. It was during his junior year that Webb caught the eyes of the professional scouts when he finished the 2000 season with a record of 7-3 and led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts.
The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Webb in the 8th round of the Major League Baseball draft, and he made his major league debut only 3 years later in 2003 at the age of 23. Webb spent the next six seasons pitching for the Diamondbacks, where he finished with a record of 87-62, and an ERA of only 3.27 with 1,065 strikeouts. Webb was named to the All-Star team three years in a row in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
His best year came in 2006 when he started the season 8-0 and finished 16-8 with an ERA 3.10. He was named the National League’s Cy Young Award winner, becoming the first and only Kentuckian to ever to achieve that honor. In 2007, Webb pitched a streak of 42 scoreless innings, which is the 12th longest streak in baseball history. He was also the Cy Young Award runner-up in 2008 after racking up a career-high 22 wins.
Webb’s career was cut short by a series of shoulder injuries that started at the beginning of the 2009 season. A section of Route 60 near Ashland is named “Brandon Webb Highway”. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and 3 kids. Webb says he still gets down to the ballpark often during the season, working for Fox Sports Arizona doing the pregame and postgame shows.
“Being a Kentucky Wildcat was all that I ever wanted to be growing up in Ashland, Kentucky,” said Webb. “Playing in the SEC against the best players in the country was what set the tone and gave me the experiences to take my game to the next level. Go Big Blue!”
Drafted in the 8th round of the MLB draft in 2000
Made MLB debut in 2003 at age 23
Pitched 6 seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks
Won the NL Cy Young Award in 2006 and runner-up in 2008
Led the National League in wins in 2006 and 2008
Was named an NL All-Star 3 straight years from 2006-2008
Section of Route 60 is named “Brandon Webb Highway”
Former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen is as beloved today as he was when he played for the Cats from 2000-2003. Lorenzen was the Cats’ starting quarterback all four years of his UK career. In that time, he set 11 school records, 4 SEC records and 6 NCAA records for passing and total offense. Most believe his UK records will never be broken, including total offense, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts. He also threw a school record 538 yards in one game against Georgia during his red-shirt freshman season. Lorenzen signed as a free agent with the New York Giants and earned a Super Bowl ring as the team’s backup quarterback in 2008. After his NFL career was over, Lorenzen’s love for the game led him to play for a couple of indoor football teams, where he even served as the general manager of the Northern Kentucky River Monsters and then eventually the commissioner of the Ultimate Indoor Football League.
He now covers the state of Kentucky for HBB Pro Sales Group, which is a small manufacturing company based out Cleveland that makes HVAC and plumbing products. Lorenzen also owns a t-shirt company appropriately named Throwboy Tees, and he’s a regular on Kentucky Sports Radio.
“Being able to call myself a Kentucky Wildcat is one of the greatest honors I have as a person,” Lorenzen said. “You can be anywhere in the world and find another Wildcat, and it’s like you guys are best friends and always have something to talk about. The fans truly bleed blue, and that’s what makes them the greatest fans ever.”
Named Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 1998
Led Fort Thomas Highlands to 2 state titles, including a perfect 15-0 season in 1998
Set 11 UK records, 4 SEC records and 6 NCAA records for passing and total offense
2nd team All-SEC in 2002
SEC Co-Freshman of the year in 2000
National Player of the Week vs Vanderbilt in 2001
Two-time semi-finalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award
NFL Super Bowl champion as member of New York Giants in 2008
There is no denying that Kenny Walker is one of the most exciting players ever to put on a University of Kentucky uniform. “Sky” dominated for the Cats from 1982-1986 where he was named All-SEC all four years. In his senior year Walker was named a consensus 1st-team All-American. He was named the SEC Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons.
When his playing days were over at UK, Walker is one of only three UK basketball players to score over 2,000 points and finished as the 2nd all-time leading scorer with 2,080 points trailing only Dan Issel. Walker began his professional career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him the 5th overall selection in the 1986 NBA draft. Three years later, “Sky” won the NBA slam dunk title three days after the death of his father. Walker played five years with the Knicks, two years with the Washington Bullets, and six years playing overseas in Japan and Spain.
Walker has lived in Lexington since his playing days ended. He is a salesman for Kentucky Sports History and has been a sports talk radio host, primarily for WVLK.
Walker proudly said, “Playing at the University of Kentucky and still being recognized today is still one of the most exciting things in my life, including playing in the NBA.”
Georgia’s Mr. Basketball in 1982
#2 on Kentucky’s All-time career scoring list
Consensus 1st team All-American in 1986
Consensus 2nd team All-American in 1985
SEC Player of the Year in 1985 & 1986
5th overall pick in the NBA draft by the New York Knicks
NBA Slam Dunk Champion in 1989
Played 7 seasons in the NBA (Knicks & Bullets)
His #34 jersey is retired to the rafters of Rupp Arena
Member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
Simply put, Derek Abney was one of the best kick returners in the history of college football. Abney was one of those rare athletes that when he was on the football field you never took your eyes off of him because fans knew at any time that he could do something special. As a receiver and kick returner for the Kentucky Wildcats from 2000-2003, Abney broke or tied seven NCAA records, 11 SEC records and 14 UK records for kick returns and all-purpose yards.
Abney was the very first player in NCAA history to have over 2,000 receiving yards, 2,000 kickoff return yards, and 1,000 punt return yards. When his storied UK career ended, Abney had returned eight kicks of touchdowns (6 punts and 2 kickoffs). He was is one of only four UK football players to ever be named first team All-SEC three times.
Abney is currently a manager of a petrochemical terminal in South Carolina. “I didn’t realize when I accepted my UK scholarship how extensive and supportive the UK fan base would be,” Abney said. “I live in Charleston, SC, and just about every week I see a UK shirt, flag, sticker, or license plate. Big Blue Nation is ever-present, and the support it shows for its teams sets it apart from any other fan base.”
Abney added, “I will say I also developed a lot of character from the adversity that comes with three different head coaches and four different position coaches. It was a difficult situation which forced my leadership qualities to develop; which has served me well in my current role as a petrochemical terminal manager. That being said, I wouldn’t change my time at UK. It is special to me, and I appreciate all my UK family-with red or blue blood-did for me and continues to do.”
1st team All-State as a junior and a senior in North Dakota
Broke or tied 7 NCAA records
1st player to ever have 2000 all-purpose yards, 2000 kickoff return yards and 1000 punt return yards.
Consensus 1st team All-American in 2002
2nd team All-American in 2003
1st team All-SEC in 2001, 2002 & 2003
Ranked 1st in All-Purpose yards at UK and 2nd in the SEC
Ranked 2nd in career receiving yards, receptions and receiving TD’s at UK
Drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens
Jenny Hansen-Hecht is not only one of the most decorated athletes to ever wear the Blue and White at Kentucky, but she’s also one of the greatest gymnasts in the history of collegiate gymnastics... period. While at UK from 1992-1995, Hansen is the only person to ever win three consecutive NCAA All-Around Championships. She also won 2 NCAA titles in the balance beam, 2 NCAA titles in the vault, and also won an NCAA title in floor exercise. In all, Hansen won 8 NCAA championships and 9 SEC titles. In 2006, the Wisconsin native was named the Most Outstanding NCAA Gymnast over the past 25 years. She is a 13-time All-American, and is one of only two female athletes to ever have a banner retired at UK in their honor.
Her post-UK career has been just as rewarding. She’s worked at Sea World, Disney World, Orlando Magic games, and in Hollywood as a stunt woman. She currently lives with her husband, Michael, in Golden, Colorado, where she works with the ATS Team as a rigger and professional obstacle course tester for some of TV’s most popular obstacle courses like American Ninja Warrior, Ultimate Beast Master and Amazing Race.
“Being a UK Wildcat gymnast has been one of the most influential periods in my life,” Hansen said. “Coach Leah Little and Assistant coach Time Myers, along with teammates, allowed me to struggle and succeed. The University of Kentucky and the state of Kentucky welcomed me with open arms and always made me feel at home.”
Hansen continued, “This home feel and appreciation of what I accomplished while I was competing at UK is displayed all over town–from the Nutter Field House where I trained, Memorial Coliseum where I competed, to the Children’s Hospital Hall of Champions wall as well as two ‘Jenny Hansen Days’ [May and February]. I am honored by the love I received while being an athlete and overwhelmed by the banners placed everywhere to celebrate my accomplishments. To be recognized as one of the Top 10 Kentucky Legends, makes me speechless and puts me on Cloud 9 to be still acknowledged in the beautiful state of Kentucky!”
Only person ever to win 3 straight NCAA All-Around Championships
Won a total of 8 National titles
Won a total of 9 SEC titles
Named the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Gymnast over the past 25 years
One of only 2 female athletes to have a banner retired in their honor at UK
Named an SEC legend
Participated in 2002 Olympic closing ceremonies
Tim Couch is not only one of the best football players to ever play at UK, but he’s universally regarded as the most “important” football player to ever play at UK. Couch became a cult phenomenon at Leslie County High School where he not only set several national passing records and was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football, but also led the state in scoring in basketball as a junior with 36 points per game. He added to his popularity by picking Kentucky over rival Tennessee.
After Hal Mumme was hired as UK’s head coach, Couch stamped his place in UK folklore by turning in the 2 best seasons a UK quarterback has ever had in leading the team to the Outback Bowl in 1998. When his UK career was over, Couch held 7 NCAA passing records, and he still holds the NCAA record for completions per game at 36.4 and completion percentage in one game (minimum of 40 completions) when he went 44-53 against Vanderbilt in 1998. His record of 4,151 passing yards in 1998 was an SEC record for 9 years until Tim Tebow broke it by only 30 yards. He is also the only UK football player ever to be named a Heisman finalist.
After UK, Couch was the overall #1 pick in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns where he started for 5 seasons. He currently lives in Lexington with his wife, Heather, and their two boys. Couch worked as a broadcaster for several years after his playing days, and now he’s an investor in several businesses in Lexington.
“Coming out of high school I had an opportunity to play anywhere in the country, but I chose to stay home and play for Kentucky because I grew up a huge UK fan, and I wanted to stay close to home for my friends and family to watch me play,” Couch said. “It’s a decision I’ve never regretted for many reasons. We started a new brand of Kentucky football with the “Air Raid” offense, and I loved playing for coach Mumme where I became the SEC Player of the Year, 1st team All-American, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft.” Couch continued, “I loved playing here so much that after my NFL career was over, I decided to come back to Lexington to raise my kids here.”