Not one, not two, but three University of Kentucky basketball legends are celebrating birthdays on July 18.
Former Basketball ‘Cats Bam Adebayo, Derek Anderson, and John Pelphrey all completed another trip around the sun today.
Adebayo, who turns 24, is currently preparing to represent the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo. In international exhibition games so far, the North Carolina native is averaging 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while playing 17 minutes per contest.
In fact, Adebayo and Team USA will play in their final exhibition game tonight at 9:00 pm ET against Spain. The team has struggled to start, but recently added JaVale McGee and former Wildcat Keldon Johnson. They are also without another former ‘Cat Devin Booker, who is still competing in the NBA Finals.
Derek Anderson turns 47 today. The former Doss High School star began his career at Ohio State before transferring to Lexington.
Many fans will argue that he might be the biggest “what if” in Kentucky history. Coming off the heels of the 1996 championship, the Cats were rolling again looking to make it back-to-back titles. 19 games into the season, fate had a different plan as Anderson went down with a knee injury.
Prior to the injury, he was averaging 17.7 points per game while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Of course, everyone knows what happened next with the ’97 team.
Recently, Anderson made headlines after tweeting that he wanted to join John Calipari’s coaching staff in order to fix last season. A few months prior, he also was in the news after officially going back to school and finishing his degree.
The final UK birthday goes to Paintsville’s own John Pelphrey. The 1987 Mr. Basketball winner spent five years in Lexington and was named All-SEC his junior season.
One of the “Unforgettables,” Pelphrey almost immediately jumped into coaching after leaving Kentucky. He had assistant coaching positions at Oklahoma State, Marshall, and Florida before getting his head coaching start at South Alabama in 2002.
He rebuilt the Jaguars and took them to back-to-back postseason tournaments which helped land him the Arkansas job. There, he was fired after four seasons with a 69-59 record.
This year, Pelphrey will be beginning his third season as the head coach at Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles have only won 14 games in his two years, but a rebuild was expected for him. TTU has not been to an NCAA tournament in nearly 60 years.
Join us in wishing these three Kentucky legends a very happy birthday. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a better trio of players born on the same day in the history of the program.