Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: When Should Players Go Up Into The Rafters?


When Should Jersey’s be Added to the Rupp Arena Rafters?

I’ll be honest, I have no idea who decides when a player deserves to have their jersey retired to the Rupp Arena rafters and I have no idea what the qualifications are. Should it happen soon after their tenure with the Kentucky Wildcats? Should it happen after their NBA career comes to and end? Should it only be players who have graduated or spent four years with the program?

If you look up in the rafters right now, the most recent addition is Tony Delk. I was there when his jersey was added, it was quite a sight. Dell played for the Kentucky Wildcats from 1992-1996, so he’s not a recent player. He was a vital part of the Kentucky Wildcats during his tenure with the team, but his career began over 20 years before his jersey was retired, but he was a four-year player and graduated from the university.

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With the new normal of the Kentucky Wildcats program under head coach John Calipari, players leave for the NBA before their four years with the Kentucky Wildcats are up. They don’t finish their degrees in the normal four-year period like players used to. It makes me wonder if the qualifications I assume (four years with the program and graduation) need to be hindered to fit the new normal for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Sure, Alex Poythress is about to be one of the few Calipari recruits to spend four years with the program and graduate, in fact, working on his Master’s during his senior season. He would qualify for the jersey retirement. But what about players like John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, etc. Players that represent the university in the NBA at the highest of ability. Players that may have only spent a year with the program but gave it their all. Players who still embrace the Big Blue Nation despite not being in college anymore.

Don’t they deserve to be recognized, too?

Some of the players that are staying one year to three years with the Kentucky Wildcats are moving on to the NBA to be some of the best players out there. They seemingly stay out of trouble and represent the university in a way that all alumni would be assumed to do.

To me, the qualifications for the retirement of jerseys in the rafter needs to be swayed to fit the program. I understand waiting a few years before retiring them, but completely snubbing players of the honor is sad. I fully expect to see the retirement of Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Wall and many more to happen one day, even if it’s once their NBA career ends.