Oscar Tshiebwe became the 61st player in the history of the Kentucky men’s basketball program to score 1,000 points for the Wildcats on Wednesday night.
He also joined a much smaller group: UK players who have achieved that feat while playing for John Calipari.
Tshiebwe, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark as a Wildcat in UK’s 82-74 victory over Florida, is just the fifth player in the Calipari era to reach that scoring milestone. He’s the first to do it in more than a decade.
The top players of the Calipari era have largely been one-and-done talents, and few of the most productive Wildcats over the past 14 seasons have stuck around for more than two years. That trend — along with the increased roster turnover of the transfer portal era — has made it difficult for new UK players to join one of the program’s most venerable clubs. It’s also difficult to envision too many Wildcats hitting the 1,000-point mark in the foreseeable future.
Tshiebwe, who scored 590 points last season after playing a season and a half at West Virginia, could be the last Cat to do it for a while. Here’s a look at those who have done it during the Calipari era.
All-time rank: 59th.
Tshiebwe transferred from West Virginia to UK during the 2020-21 season, sitting out the rest of that campaign before making his Wildcats debut in 2021-22. He immediately emerged as a force in college basketball and a fan favorite in Kentucky, earning national player of the year honors and leading the Cats to a 26-8 record last season. Tshiebwe averaged 17.4 points per game and led the nation with 15.1 rebounds per game, then decided to return to UK for a second season. A knee injury suffered a month before the opener got him off to a slow start, but he’s still led the Cats in points and rebounds this season, and he’s currently on pace to become the all-time leading scorer among Wildcats who have played solely in the Calipari era. Technically, Tshiebwe has another year of college eligibility beyond this one, and he’ll make a decision on his playing future after the season. Among players who have played just two seasons for UK’s program, Bill Spivey is the all-time scoring leader with 1,213 points.
All-time rank: 52nd.
Among Kentucky players who have played exclusively in the Calipari era, Terrence Jones is the program’s leading scorer. The highly touted forward from Portland, Oregon, was the second-leading-scorer on UK’s 2011 Final Four team as a freshman and then decided to come back to the Cats for his sophomore season. The result was a key role on the 2012 national championship team, finishing third in points, third in rebounds and second in blocked shots on a squad that featured Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — the No. 1 and 2 picks in that year’s NBA Draft, respectively. Jones was the No. 18 overall selection in the draft that year, and his distinction as the leading scorer of the Calipari era has held for 11 years, though Tshiebwe is likely to surpass that mark in the coming weeks.
All-time rank: 57th.
Another holdover from the 2011 Final Four team, Doron Lamb also returned for a sophomore season and proved to be an integral part of Kentucky’s national championship run. The smooth-shooting guard averaged 13.7 points per game — second only to Anthony Davis — for the Wildcats’ 2012 title team. He also scored a team-high 22 points in UK’s 67-59 victory over Kansas in the NCAA championship game. In fact, he hit the 1,000-point mark for his Wildcats career that night, his final appearance in a Kentucky uniform. Lamb went 12-for-23 from three-point range in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and remains UK’s all-time leader in three-point percentage. He shot 47.5 percent from long range in his two seasons as a Wildcat.
All-time rank: 34th.
A beloved UK basketball figure, Darius Miller is the only native Kentuckian to play in the Calipari era and also be in the program’s 1,000-point club. Miller was a standout player at Mason County, a state champion as a senior, Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball, and a signature recruit for Billy Gillispie, who he played under for just one season before Calipari came to town in 2009. Miller started 69 of 76 games over Calipari’s first two seasons as head coach before embracing a sixth-man role for much of the 2012 national championship season. He was sixth on the team in scoring that year but remained a key player for the Wildcats in their NCAA title run. Miller is 34th on UK’s all-time scoring list and is 10th in career points among players from Kentucky.
All-time rank: 13th.
Patrick Patterson actually scored his 1,000th point at the end of Billy Gillispie’s two-year tenure as Kentucky’s head coach, but he stuck around for a junior season and served as an important bridge between the previous staff and the Calipari era. Patterson stayed on as the leading veteran on a team that featured such star freshmen as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, and — even though his overall numbers were down compared to his first two seasons as a Cat — he still averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game during the 2009-10 season, the only UK player to start all 38 games in Calipari’s first run as Kentucky’s coach. Patterson is the highest-scoring player in the last 20 years of UK basketball.
Other Calipari era scorers
Five other Kentucky players have scored 800 total points in the Calipari era.
▪ Aaron Harrison (979 points) was just 21 points shy of the 1,000-point club when Kentucky lost to Wisconsin — ending the Cats’ quest for a 40-0 season — in the 2015 Final Four. He is fourth all-time among UK players who fell just short of 1,000 points.
▪ Alex Poythress (966 points) actually had his highest-scoring college season as a freshman with 371 points for UK’s 2012-13, but he played four seasons under Calipari — with his junior year cut short to just eight games due to a knee injury — and was a key contributor throughput his time with the Cats.
▪ PJ Washington (932 points) nearly led Kentucky to the Final Four in 2019 — the last time UK won an NCAA Tournament game — tallying 28 points and 13 rebounds while playing through an injury in an Elite Eight overtime loss to Auburn that season. Washington led the 2018-19 team in scoring and rebounding.
▪ Willie Cauley-Stein (843 points) started 70 of 105 games over his three-year Kentucky career, never finishing higher than fifth on the team in scoring but consistently affecting games, especially on the defensive end. He was a first-team All-American and earned national defensive player of the year honors as a junior.
▪ Tyler Ulis (815 points) was obviously known as more of a passer, but he could score, too. He averaged 17.3 points per game as a sophomore, and his 606 total points that season are fifth in the Calipari era, behind one-and-dones Malik Monk (754 points), Jamal Murray (720), Brandon Knight (657) and John Wall (616).