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25 Anthony Epps

Anthony Epps
Anthony Epps
Hometown (Last School)
Lebanon, KY (Marion County)
1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97
May 4, 1975

Anthony Epps was born Anthony Jerome Epps on May 4, 1975, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Following a distinguished prep career that included a 1993 KHSAA State Championship for Marion County High School, Epps went on to an exceptional career at the University of Kentucky where he was a member of the 1996 NCAA National Championship team and then helped lead the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1997 as a team captain. UK went 124-19 in his four seasons playing in Lexington. Epps still ranks in the top 10 in four different statistical categories for Kentucky, including second all-time in assists (544).

Epps was a four-year starter for Marion County High School’s basketball team. In his final two seasons, he led the Knights to a 66-5 record, the 1993 LIT championship, back-to-back district championships, and the school’s first-ever pair of region titles. In 1993, Epps helped Marion County become the first 5th Region basketball team to win a KHSAA State Title, where he earned MVP honors. In four seasons, he scored 2,044 points, second all-time at MCHS; made 358 free throws, second all-time; had 728 assists and made the most three-point field goals at 260, both still top marks for the Knights. Epps was also a standout football player and was recognized for his athleticism with the 1993 Kentucky Male Athlete of the Year award. 

Epps was one of Kentucky’s greatest point guards, and he played during one of the school’s most successful runs in its history.

Epps debuted for the Wildcats during the 1993-94 season. Having just come off of the program’s first Final Four appearance in nine seasons, there was a lot of buzz for Rick Pitino’s emerging success in Lexington.  He came to Kentucky as a walk-on, an in-state player who figured he would ride the bench and be one of those players the crowd cheers when he makes that rare game appearance.

Basketball offers came from Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Minnesota. In fact, Epps’ hometown of Lebanon, Ky., is just 11 minutes from Campbellsville, Ky., the hometown of Minnesota coach Clem Haskins. Epps knew of this man known as Clem the Gem, which attracted him to Minnesota. But he chose to go to Kentucky as a non-scholarship player.

“I didn’t come to Kentucky with the thought of being a starter,” said Epps. “I just came because I was from the state. I was a guy lucky enough to be on a team with a lot of talent. I’m a guy who likes to pass. No matter if you start or come off the bench, coach will put you in if you play hard.”

When a grant became available before preseason practice began, coach Rick Pitino awarded it to Epps, who nonetheless played sparingly as a freshman in 1994. He started the first six games and averaged 6.7 points last season, developing a reputation as a clutch shooter.

But Jeff Sheppard, the team’s best leaper and a natural wing, started the final 27 games at the point, and during the offseason, Pitino told Epps he would begin 1995-96 as a reserve. Senior Tony Delk, the Wildcats’ top scorer as a wing guard, needed to play the point to enhance his stock with NBA scouts.

The experiment lasted all of two games, a lethargic victory against Maryland and a 10-point loss to top-ranked Massachusetts.

When Delk was shifted back to the wing for Kentucky’s third game, an 89-82 victory against Indiana, Epps became the starting point guard. He started 11 of the next 12 games, all Kentucky victories.

Pitino wasn’t satisfied and handed the reigns to Wayne Turner, a freshman of typical pedigree in Lexington: first-team high school All-American; scoring an average of 36.1 points as a senior at Beaver Country Day in Chestnut Hills, Mass.  Turner was a better shooter than Epps. He was quicker and faster. But after Epps scored 30 points combined in mid-February victories against Georgia and Tennessee, Pitino put him back in the starting lineup. For good.

Epps helped guide his teams back to national prominence by setting up his teammates and connecting on nearly 40 percent of his career three-point attempts. In his final two seasons, Epps led Kentucky to back-to-back national finals, including the 1995-96 NCAA National Championship.

Anthony capped off his career by tallying 193 assists in his senior season, tying Travis Ford for the second-highest assist total in a single season by any Wildcat player. Both players have since been eclipsed by John Wall’s record-breaking year in 2009-10, but his total is still tied for the third-highest ever.

Epps does hold a few prominent UK records by himself. He currently ranks second in school history in career assists. His 544 assists are far ahead of any other player, with the exception of Dirk Minniefield’s all-time leading total of 646.

Anthony is also sixth in school history in career steals, headlined by his 68 swipes during the 1996-97 year. That steal total is seventh-best in Kentucky basketball history.

Epps was named to the All-SEC Third Team in his senior season. During UK’s title run in 1996, he was named to the All-NCAA Regional Team.

Epps went on to coach at the high school and collegiate level and has honed his coaching acumen through more than a dozen years of coaching experience at a variety of levels and among a plethora of sports. Epps was the head boys basketball coach at Campbellsville High School, where he led the team to the 5th Region All-A Tournament Championship and worked as an Exceptional Child Education Teacher. Before serving as the boys head coach, he was the girl’s head coach at Campbellsville for three seasons, being named the 5th Region Co-Coach of the Year in 2017. Epps has also coached football, girls volleyball and softball.  Epps was an assistant coach for the Northern Kentucky University women’s team for two season before returning as the new boys’ basketball coach at Campbellsville High School in 2023.

Epps was inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022.

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