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35 Jess Curry

Jess Curry
Hometown (Last School)
Portsmouth, VA
August 4, 1932

From the 1954 University of Kentucky Basketball Media Guide:

One of only two non-Kentuckians on the Wildcat squad this season, Curry came to Kentucky with a great high school reputation as an All-Virginia selection in both the cage sport and football . . . He played forward as a schoolboy basketeer, but his size (5-11 and 167) caused him to be converted to a guard at U.K. last season . . . Although he was an All-State quarterback, Curry never went out for college foot-ball . . . He’s a fast, driving type of player who shoots with good accuracy from the outside . . . Should see considerable action this year.

From “It’s Been a Great Journey,” The News and Advance, December 11, 2008

That competitive nature would take Curry to the University of Kentucky, bypassing scholarship opportunities to play for Notre Dame, North Carolina, Tennessee and Richmond – all of which wanted him to play quarterback.

His first year at Kentucky, Curry played basketball, baseball and track. It would be the only year he played basketball, and it was a memorable one, as the team went 25-0.

Curry played for legendary Wildcats coach Adolph Rupp, and that was a story within itself.

“He (Rupp) called me in his office one time and he said, ‘Curry, I didn’t know you could play like that. You are a combination of Skippy Whitaker and Ralph Beard (both of whom were All-Americans at Kentucky). We see a great future here at the University of Kentucky.’ What did that do for me? Well, my head went through the wall. I wasn’t used to that.”
Curry went on to say that Rupp was a special coach. “It was magnificent – we never, ever said a word on the floor. Not one word. He was really, really tough.”
The trio of Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos led the Wildcats to a perfect 25-0 record that season. All three were selected by the Boston Celtics in the previous year’s draft, and that meant that Curry did not get to play in the NCAA Tournament since the trio was not eligible to participate.
Regardless of the outcome, the trio and a fourth man, Billy Evans, were described by Curry as the four best basketball players that ever played at Kentucky.

In football, Curry played on the 7-3 team that was invited to the Gator Bowl. He was still irked that he was at halfback and could not play quarterback. “I like the ball in my hands,” he said. “I like it when it’s going and getting tough – that’s me. I can’t take it when I don’t have the ball in my hands.”

From there, Curry played two years of baseball, which did not have scholarship players. In those two seasons, the Wildcats were 16-25, but Curry was 12-3 on the mound.

Curry also played his fourth sport, track, and he still holds the Kentucky record for most points (28) at a track meet.


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