Who is the best Kentucky basketball player that I have been around or seen since I became familiar with UK basketball?
That's a question Larry Vaught asked me. It is easy to answer because of what this player did for the program while he was here and after he left. That player is Jamal Mashburn. Jamal's combination of size, inside ball, outside shooting, ballhandling, what he meant to the program and just raw skills make him the best. What he did here in three years was unbelievable. If he had come back for his senior year there's no doubt he would have shattered every scoring record at Kentucky.
I know he didn't win an NCAA title, but he still has to be among the best ever to play at Kentucky. That's how much respect I have for him. A lot of people forget that when he came here we were going through hard times. He came here under tough circumstances, and to put up the numbers he did was unbelievable.
Mashburn took Kentucky to the Final Four in 1993. If Dale Brown doesn't get hurt, the Cats may have won that championship. If he had come back for his senior year he might have won.
It's unfair to see claims that he's not a great player because he didn't win a championship. I played with Patrick Ewing in the NBA. I felt like he was a great player, but he didn't win a championship. He was great, and so was Mashburn.
Larry also wanted to know one-on-one if I could take Mashburn. That's a hard question. It would be close. I would think one-on-one because he probably was a little bit better ballhandler than I was and could maybe get off a few more outside jumpers, I would give him a slight edge. But it wouldn't be easy.
WALKER: The best Kentucky basketball player
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