Former greats join other legends in Wildcat shrine
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Six University of Kentucky greats will be inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in late September. The 2012 class includes former UK student-athletes Derek Abney (football), Leroy Edwards (men's basketball), J.B. Holmes (men's golf), Jeff Keener (baseball), Clayton Moss (swimming and diving) and Nancy Scranton (women's golf). The class will be formally inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend, Sept. 14-15, in conjunction with the football game against Western Kentucky University.
Derek Abney (2000-03) is arguably the greatest kick returner in college football history after setting seven NCAA records, 11 SEC records and 14 school records for kick returns and all-purpose yardage. Abney was named a first-team All-America as a junior, second-team All-America as a senior and a three-year first-team All-SEC performer, becoming only the fourth player in school history to accomplish that feat. The talented star was the first player in NCAA history to accumulate 2,000 receiving yards, 2,000 kickoff return yards and 1,000 punt return yards. In all, Abney returned eight kicks for touchdowns during his career (six punts, two kickoffs), while he ended his UK career ranked second in three statistical categories: receptions (197), receiving yards (2,339) and touchdowns receiving (18). Abney's NFL career ended because of injury.
Leroy Edwards (1935) was named the 1935 Helms National Player of the Year after averaging 16.3 points per game that season. A consensus first- team All-American, Edwards was also named first team All-SEC after leading the Wildcats to a perfect 11-0 record in league play en route to the SEC Championship. A member of the Helms Basketball Hall of Fame, Edwards left UK in 1935 to play in the National Basketball League, a forerunner of the NBA. He played in the NBL from 1936-42, leading the league in scoring three times and was the all-league center several years.
J.B. Holmes (2002-05) led UK to its lone SEC championship in 2005 on top of being named the SEC Golfer of the Year, becoming the only UK player to claim the distinguished honor in school history. During his career, Holmes earned six first-place finishes and 35 top-10 finishes, more than any other player in the Brian Craig Era. The Kentucky native was a PING All-American three years, including a first-team All-American in 2004. He also earned first-team All-America by the Golf Coaches Association of America in 2005 and was named an Academic All-American, the GCAA All-American Scholar and the Cleveland Golf All-American Scholar in 2004 and 2005. Professionally, Holmes won two FBR Open titles on the PGA Tour and was a member of the 2008 Ryder Cup championship team. He has surpassed more than $10 million in career earnings.
Jeff Keener (1980-81) compiled a 20-5 pitching record during his two seasons with the Wildcats and still holds UK career records with a 2.01 ERA. He allowed only 5.1 hits per nine innings en route to a career winning percentage of .800, which is second in school history. His senior All-American year featured the best single-season pitching performance ever at UK, with a 13-1 record, 0.51 ERA and just 3.9 hits per nine innings, all of which continue as school records. Keener helped lead the team to a then-school-record 39 wins in 1981, advancing to the finals of the SEC Tournament. During his junior season, Keener led the SEC in strikeouts. The UK star was drafted by St. Louis Cardinals and played two years in the major leagues.
Clayton Moss (1999-2003) was an eight-time All-America diver and three-time All-America honorable mention honoree for the Wildcats. He earned All-America status on all three boards during his time at UK, while becoming the only UK male diver in program history to be named a two-time SEC Diver of the Year (2002 and 2003). Moss captured an SEC crown on three occasions, winning the one-meter in 2001 and 2002 and the three-meter in 2003. He was a SEC Academic Honor Roll performer as a senior before finishing his career with UK records on the one-meter (11 dives) and on the three-meter (11 dives). His performances still rank among the top five scores in school history in five events, including the platform (10 dives), three-meter (11 dives), one-meter (11 dives), three-meter (six dives) and one-meter (six dives).
Nancy Scranton (1983-84) was Kentucky's first All-SEC performer in women's golf and also is UK's most successful player in the LPGA ranks. The 1983 All-SEC performer won two tournaments as a senior, the Western Kentucky Invitational and Southern Illinois Invitational. She graduated in 1984 and began playing on the LPGA Tour in 1985 where she has won three LPGA events, including one major, the 1991 du Maurier Classic. Overall, Scranton has garnered more than $3.3 million in career earnings. She won the LPGA's Heather Farr Award for the player who "best exemplifies outstanding dedication and perseverance," and received the 2003 Daytona Beach (Fla.) Kiwanis Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award.
The UK Athletics Hall of Fame was started in 2005 to recognize and honor persons whose participation and contributions enriched and strengthened the university's athletic program. The charter class included 88 individuals who had previously had their jersey retired by UK.
There is a five-year waiting period – after leaving UK – to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame and an additional 5-year waiting period to have a jersey retired. An individual must be a member of the Hall of Fame to be eligible for jersey retirement.
A committee consisting of Hall of Famers, media members, campus representatives, and current coaches and administrators elects new inductees each year.