NCAA champion 1948

Fabulous Five set gold standard for all future Kentucky teams

December 23, 2009 

  • Record: 36-3

    Coach: Adolph Rupp

    Starters: Cliff Barker, Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, Alex Groza, Kenny Rollins and Ralph Beard

    NCAA finals: Beat Baylor 58-42 (Groza 14 points, Beard 12)

    Average margin in NCAA Tournament: 15.7 points (three games)

    Team's legacy: The Fabulous Five set the standard for all future UK teams and sent all five starters to the 1948 Olympics, where they won gold medals.

    From Beard: "Our practices were more competitive than most of the games. Practice was just a war. There were fights. Adolph loved that. It was all-out war."

  • 1947-48 roster

    No. Player Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown

    5 John Stough G So. 6-0 170 Montgomery, Ala.

    7 Albert Cummins G So. 5-10 160 Brooksville

    12 Ralph Beard G Jr. 5-10 175 Louisville

    13 Roger Day F Fr. 6-2 170 Frostburg, Md.

    14 Joe Holland F Jr. 6-4 190 Benton

    14 Garland Townes G Fr. 6-0 170 Hazard, KY

    15 Alex Groza C Jr. 6-7 220Martins Ferry, Ohio

    18 Dale Barnstable F/G So. 6-3 175 Antioch, Ill.

    19 Walter Hirsch F Fr. 6-4 180 Dayton, Ohio

    19 Jack Parkinson G Sr. 6-0 175 Yorktown, Ind.

    20 Kenton Campbell C Sr. 6-4 195 Newark, Ohio

    23 Cliff Barker G/F Jr. 6-2 185 Yorktown, Ind.

    25 Jim Line F So. 6-2 185 Akron, Ohio

    26 Robert Henne G Fr. 6-1 170 Bremen, Ind.

    26 Ken Rollins G Sr. 6-0 175 Wickliffe

    27 Wallace Jones F/C Jr. 6-4 205 Harlan

    30 James Jordan F Sr. 6-3 185 Chester, W.Va.

    Mike Homa F Fr. Fairfield Co., Ala.

    Will Smethers G Fr. 6-2 180 Middletown, Ohio

This was the year of the Fabulous Five. There was no Final Four as such, but Kentucky won the Southeastern Conference Tournament and traveled to New York for the NCAA competition in Madison Square Garden.

Kentucky's first opponent was Columbia, the Ivy League champion. Columbia entered the game with a 21-1 record, but Kentucky won the game 76-53. Next came Holy Cross, the defending national champion with a 23-3 record, an 18-game winning streak and Bob Cousy. Cousy was held to five points, and UK got 23 from Alex Groza and 13 from Ralph Beard to win 60-52.

The Wildcats (36-3) won the title by defeating Baylor 58-42 as Groza scored 14 points and Beard added 12. The Fabulous Five — Beard, Groza, Wallace "Wah Wah'' Jones, Kenny Rollins and Cliff Barker — were later selected to join the Phillips Oilers, an industrial league team, and other top college players to represent the United States in the London Olympics. The United States swept past eight opponents and defeated France 65-21 to win the gold medal.

Herald-Leader staff report

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