To celebrate SLAM’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential men’s college teams from our past 30 years. Stats, records and chips aren’t the main factor here, it’s all about their contribution to the game’s cultural fabric.

For the next 30 days—Monday through Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full list here. We’ve also got an exclusive retro collegiate collection, out now, that pays homage to each squad’s threads. Shop here.

Despite being a youthful roster filled with talented stars, the 2017 Wildcats would be questioned at every corner. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, and Derek Willis. Those are only a few names that glued this team together and allowed them to go on the crazy run they accomplished during this season. 

Fox was the facilitator and a pestering defender who averaged 17 points per game and lived up to his social media handle, swipathefox. Meanwhile, Monk brought intensity and determination from start to finish of every game and Bam left opponents shook in the paint. Collectively this group set the tone at the start of every game. From a drop off to Bam in the paint, pass and shot by Monk, or a pass and crazy move from Fox, this Kentucky team would run you up and down a court like no other. And because they were so young, they never got tired, or at least never showed it. There was always some fight and scoring left in them at every game. Running teams out the gym, the Wildcats had over 15 games where they beat their opponents by at least 10 points in the regular season. They were ultimately a scoring madhouse. 

Led by the only John Calipari, their athleticism, drive, and determination brought them all the way to postseason: first, winning the SEC championship and then the NCAA tournament, where they swept past opponents like Northern Kentucky, Wichita State and UCLA—a game in which Fox dropped 39 points in a matchup against the Bruins’ star, Lonzo Ball. 

The Elite Eight showdown against UNC was, well, elite. The pressure was on, especially for Fox and his Wildcats, who eventually lost to the Tar Heels. An emotional Fox later revealed to us that summer: “Just knowing that was my only opportunity to win a National Championship—competitiveness spilled over,” Fox told SLAM. “Just knowing that we were up 5 with like two to three minutes left, knowing that we could have won that game is what really [hurt]. Just losing that game the way we did. It was tough losing like that. It’s not the same when you have another chance to win it. That was the part that hurt the most.”

Despite the season that could’ve been, the 2017 Wildcats helped cement Kentucky’s legacy as one of the most dominant and competitive programs. Fox, Bam and Monk are all hoopin’ in the L today, and never hesitate to support BBN whenever they get the chance, either. That’s just what happens when you rock Kentucky blue…

Photos via Getty Images.


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