44 Bill Lickert

Bill Lickert
Hometown (Last School)
Lexington, KY (Lafayette)
1958-59, 1959-60, 1960-61
January 8, 1939

From the 1961 University of Kentucky Media Guide:

Superlatives that have been heaped on the shoulders of this local product during his sensational schoolboy and collegiate careers are a dime a dozen. Already acclaimed as one of the nation’s most versatile players (able to operate effectively at any position) and an exceptionally fine defensive man, Lickert last season picked up a new adjective—courageous. This stemmed from his determination to regain All-America candidate form after being sidelined for a month in mid-season due to an operation for calcification of a thigh muscle. Seemingly well on his way to even greater heights than attained in his first varsity campaign two years ago, when he was accorded “Sophomore of the Year” honors in the Southestern Conference, Bill was pacing Kentucky scoring at a better than 20-points-a-game clip and had stuffed in 29 against eventual national champ Ohio State in late December. When he departed for surgery on his leg in mid-January, many feared his career was at an end, but Lickert came back virtually as good as ever after missing five games to be the Cats’ leading scorer in four of the last seven contests of the season. And, for the second straight season, SEC coaches accorded him a berth on the All-Conference team. He was second in UK scoring with 288 points, posted the best scoring average of 14.4 and was fourth in rebounding. He was the most accurate shot from the field, among the regulars, with a .401 mark. Best shot is a jumper from medium ranges. Often assigned other team’s top scorer, he does exceptional job on defense because of speed and agility. Probably will play mostly forward this season, but might shift to guard. The question of how his leg will hold up is a big factor in Kentucky’s success plans. The 6-3 former Lexington Lafayette All-America, who started his climb to fame years ago with a doubled-up coat hanger and tennis ball as equipment, had a fabulous schoolboy career. He scored 1,745 points, made the All-State team twice (once as a center) and won unanimous All-America honors.

Obituary – Former UK Men’s Basketball All-American Billy Ray Lickert Dies, UK Media Relations (September 13, 2017)

Lickert, a UK Athletics Hall of Famer, was the 12th 1,000-point scorer in program history

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Billy Ray Lickert, a Helms Foundation All-American in 1961 and three-time All-Southeastern Conference player for the Kentucky men’s basketball team, died Wednesday. He was 78.

Lickert became the 12th player in program history to amass 1,000 career points and was a three-year letter winner (1959-61) under legendary coach Adolph Rupp. He was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the fifth round of the 1961 NBA Draft.

“Billy Ray Lickert was a Wildcat in the truest sense,” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. “He lived the dream that so many people in our state share in wearing the Blue and White and our program and university are better for it. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Lickert was a state-wide name after winning the 1957 Kentucky Mr. Basketball award before becoming an All-SEC and All-American player at Kentucky. He grew up just across the street from UK’s campus as a child and told Oscar Combs, a friend of Lickert’s and member of the local media, in a recent podcast interview that he always dreamed of playing at Kentucky.

“I was a Wildcat,” Lickert told Combs in the “Conversations with Oscar Combs” podcast. “Every kid back in those days, you had aspirations of being able to play for Kentucky. That’s what everybody – all my friends – then wanted to do.”

He averaged 14.7 points per game in 73 appearances over three seasons for Kentucky. Lickert totaled 1,076 career points and earned All-SEC third-team honors in 1959, second-team recognition in 1960 and was a first-team selection in 1961. His senior season he averaged 16.1 points per game en route to his All-America status.

Asked by Combs in the recent podcast interview how he would like to be remembered, he hoped fans would think of him as a “good basketball player” who gave it his all.

“When I’m talking about a basketball player, I’m thinking about all this talk today about position-less players. Well, that’s what I considered myself to have been,” Lickert told Combs. “I could play multiple positions, I could play defense, I could rebound for my size. So I would like to be remembered as a good basketball player who gave it all and represented the university and my family as best I could.”

Lickert, a Lexington native, is also a member of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame after leading Lafayette High School to a state title in 1957.

Survivors of Lickert include his wife, Sue, and his sons, Dick and Doug.