- Deron Feldhaus
- Hometown (Last School)
- Maysville, KY (Mason County)
- 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92
- December 16, 1968
Deron Feldhaus was born Deron Randolph Feldhaus on December 16, 1968, in Lexington, Kentucky to Allen and Dottie Feldhaus. His father played basketball and baseball at Kentucky from 1960-62. His brother, Allen Jr., played basketball at Eastern Kentucky from 1981-85, while his brother, Willie, played at Morehead State from 1983-87.
He is a graduate of Mason County High School. During his high school basketball career he played for his father, Coach Allen Feldhaus, Sr. He was the third son to play for his dad. As a junior, Feldhaus averaged 19.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, hit 58 percent of his shots from the floor and 69 percent of his free throws, plus averaged 4 assists. He scored a season-high 31 points against Pendleton County and had 26 against both Fleming County and Tollesboro. He scored 25 four times, including a 70-64 win over 6-10 Terry Mills and his Romulus, Michigan, team in the Hillbrook Classic. An all-around athlete, Feldhaus had to quit football because of a growth shaft below his knee. However, he won an individual regional golf title for two straight years. He also played baseball, as an outfielder and first baseman, and hit .370 his sophomore year. During his senior season at Mason County, Feldhaus, along with teammate Jerry Butker, led Mason County to the Sweet 16 State Tournament. The team won the 39th District Championship, and the 10th Region Championship, and advanced to the quarter-finals of the Sweet 16 where they lost in a heart-breaker to eventual state runner-up Louisville Ballard led by future NBA player Allan Houston. Feldhaus scored 26 points in the loss to Ballard. He was also elected to the All-Tournament Team. In 1987, Feldhaus was elected Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky. He averaged 23.6 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior, leading Mason County High School to a 31-3 record. He scored between 20 and 29 points in 25 of Mason County’s 34 games. He tallied 30 or more points three times and went below 20 only six times, including a season-low 16 against Clark County. His high game was 36 against Pendleton County. He shot 57 percent from the floor and 73 percent from the line as a senior. He’s the fifth all-time leading scorer in program history with 1,937 points. Feldhaus also was a golfer for Mason County High School.
Feldhaus was recruited to the University of Kentucky by head coach Eddie Sutton. Feldhaus’s performance on his high school team earned him a home visit from Sutton, who arrived in Maysville by helicopter, landing on the school’s football field. He signed a national letter of intent to play for Kentucky on November 14, 1986. “We’re very excited about the signing of Deron.” Sutton said. “We feel we have now signed the best two players in Kentucky. His father, Allen, was a great player here at UK and I looked for Deron to follow in his footsteps. Coaches’ sons have a definite edge. They have been around the game all their lives, which means they really know basketball and are fundamentally sound.”
Once Feldhaus arrived at UK, his first order of business was to select a number. He wore No. 44 at Mason County, as did Allen Jr., but Rob Lock had a claim to that jersey at Kentucky. “I didn’t have any other number that stuck in my mind except ’12’ (which Willie wore at Mason County and, of course, Allen Sr. at UK),” Feldhaus said. “So I said, ‘What the heck, I’ll wear ’12’ ” Bill Keightley, UK’s longtime basketball equipment manager, reacted immediately. “He got a smile on his face,” Deron said. “He remembered dad.” Said dad with a laugh: “I just told him, ‘I hope you do better than I did. All I scored was 70 points.’ That’s not putting too much pressure on him.”
On November 16, 1987, Feldhaus was admitted to the Albert B. Chandler Medical Center because of an advanced infection on his left foot. The infection was basically a heavily advanced case of what is commonly known as “athlete’s foot.” The infection, between the fourth and fifth toes on his left foot, made it hard to get a shoe on because of the swelling. On November 28, 1987, Sutton confirmed that Feldhaus would be redshirted his freshman season.
During his redshirt freshman season in 1988-89, Feldhaus played in all 32 games, starting in two. He averaged 3.7 points, 3.3 rebounds per game. He played particularly well as the season ended as he averaged 9.5 points, 7.0 rebounds per game over the last four games of season. Feldhaus scored a career-high 11 points with eight rebounds at Mississippi State. He was awarded the 110 Percenter Award at the end of the season.
During his redshirt sophomore year, Feldhaus started in 27 of 28 games at power forward. He was second in rebounding with 6.7 boards per game and third in scoring with an average of 14.4. He had a career-high 16 rebounds against Louisville and scored a career-high 27 points against North Carolina to earn MVP honors. Feldhaus scored 20-plus points on six different occasions and had 10-plus rebounds five times. He led all scorers with 23 points and five rebounds against Indiana. Feldhaus had a solid performance against the monstrous front line of LSU with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He was second on the team in playing time, averaging 33.9 minutes. At season’s end, he won Fewest Turnovers, Mr. Hustle, and Most Improved Player awards.
During his junior year, Feldhaus averaged 10.8 points and 4 rebounds per game. In his first start of the season against Indiana on December 18, 1990, Feldhaus scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. His 14 points included a mid-court three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. On January 5, 1991, Feldhaus grabbed the spotlight for a Kentucky basketball team with a multiple-choice selection of heroes. He filled in the blank by filling up the basket. “His name better be in the headlines,” LSU coach Dale Brown said of Feldhaus. “Feldhaus was the difference in the game.” Feldhaus, who conceded his shots when Louisiana State concentrated its defenses elsewhere, equaled his career high with 27 points as Kentucky beat LSU 93-80. Feldhaus hit a career-high six three-pointers doubling his season total — including two during a 19-3 UK run in the first half that shattered LSUs game plan and broke the game open. “It felt great,” Feldhaus said. “My confidence was high and that makes a big difference. I hit a couple of three-pointers and got it going. I wish I knew what it was. I’d do it every night.” Said a grinning Feldhaus, who went into the game averaging 7.7 points and hitting 31.6 percent from three-point range: “I surprised myself a little bit, but, you know, sometimes you have days like this. It’s a game I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
During his senior year, Feldhaus averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He was awarded the Mr. Hustle Award at season’s end. He finished his career with 1,232 points which placed him at 26th on the UK all-time scoring list. Rick Pitino called him “the best sixth man in America.”
While a player at Kentucky from 1988 to 1992, Feldhaus led the Wildcats to the SEC Tournament Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance, including a loss to Duke in the 1992 Elite Eight. Feldhaus shoved Christian Laettner to the floor after a play under the Kentucky basket with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. Laettner mistakenly thought Aminu Timberlake had shoved him and retaliated a few plays later by stomping on Timberlake after Timberlake had fallen to the floor under the Duke basket with 8:05 remaining in the game. During his four years at Kentucky, Feldhaus played in all 124 games either as a starter or reserve. Also, Feldhaus averaged 49% from the field over his career.
During his freshmen year in 1988–1989, the Kentucky program had been under investigation. One player, Eric Manuel, was found by the NCAA to have received improper assistance on his college entrance exams. A second player, Chris Mills, received cash payments from a booster. The scandal led to the resignation of coach Eddie Sutton and athletic director Cliff Hagan, and led to major NCAA sanctions. Less than a week later, on June 1, Rick Pitino was hired as the new head coach and charged with restoring the program. Feldhaus and fellow freshmen, John Pelphrey, Sean Woods, and Richie Farmer, decided to remain with the program despite major NCAA sanctions. Feldhaus played the sixth-man position for most of his career at Kentucky. He admits to having a tough time adjusting to the position he was assigned. In an interview, Feldhaus admitted that “when I went in the game, everybody else was tired and I was fresh. I learned to enjoy the role…” During the 1991–1992 season, the Kentucky Wildcats would lose early in the season to Pittsburgh in the Preseason National Invitational Tournament. This sparked the Wildcats to win 13 of their next 14 games. Feldhaus, along with Pelphrey, Farmer, and Woods, led Kentucky to an Elite Eight appearance in 1992 where they played the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. The game came down to the last 2 seconds of the game when Duke’s Christian Laettner hit a last-second shot to win the game.
Pelphrey, Feldhaus, Farmer, and Woods – nicknamed “The Unforgettables” – restored the luster to a program so hampered by NCAA sanctions only two years before. The four players, Feldhaus, Pelphrey, Woods, and Farmer went on to have their jerseys retired in Rupp Arena on April 7, 1992: “We retire these jerseys in honor of four young men who have been the heart and soul of our basketball program the past three years, ” C.M. Newton said. “Three years ago, our basketball program was devastated. Today, it is back on top, due largely to four young men who persevered, who weathered the hard times and brought the good times back to Kentucky basketball. Their contributions to UK basketball cannot be measured in statistics or record books.” In many Kentucky fan’s eyes, this team goes down as one of the greatest Kentucky teams of all time.