20 Jim Master

Jim Master
Hometown (Last School)
Fort Wayne, IN (Paul Harding)
1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84
March 16, 1962

Jim Master was born March 16, 1962, in South Bend, Indiana to Sandra (Sandy) Sue and Paul W. Master.  He had one sister, Marla, and two brothers, Rick and Randy.  Jim was the youngest.

Master’s family moved to the Fort Wayne, Indiana community the summer of his junior year, and he attended Paul Harding High School as a junior and senior.  During his junior year, Master led the Hawks to the school’s first-ever Indiana state tournament wins at the sectional and regional levels. He scored at a 25.2 points per game clip as a junior and was one of three high school juniors to participate in the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs.  As a senior, Master set SAC records for most points scored in a season. His outstanding year was acknowledged when he was awarded the 1980 Indiana Mr. Basketball award.  His high school coach, Harlan Frick, says he believes Master is the finest shooting guard ever to play in Fort Wayne.  As a senior in high school, Master averaged 27.8 points per game and connected on 52 percent from the field.  He had a single-game high of 43 points and scored 30 consecutive points in 12 minutes against ranked Southside High.  Master scored a total of 1,298 points his junior and senior years.  He played in several all-star games, including the McDonald’s All-American Game.  One of his most cherished honors was his selection to the Indiana Academic All-State team by the Indiana Coaches Association.  

“In my heart, I always thought I’d go to Notre Dame,” Master said at the time. “It’s so close to home.”  When Master first looked at UK, he saw a talented group of guards, a group that would be around (he thought) for some time. He saw Dirk Minniefield and Dwight Anderson, two quick All-Amencans.  He didn’t like what he saw.  Then Anderson left, alighting at Southern Cal. And Jim Master reconsidered. “I probably wouldn’t have come here if he was still here,” Master says. “That had a big influence on me.”  So big, in fact, that he spurned Notre Dame and signed with the Wildcats. He was promptly billed as “the next Kyle Macy,” a distinction he accepted with commendable grace if not joy. On March 17, 1980, Master announced he was going to Kentucky.  He moved to Lexington and spent the summer working at a horse farm.

Master was part of the 1980 recruiting class that included Melvin Turpin, Bret Bearup, and Dickie Beal. This group was considered by PrepSports.com as the best recruiting class in the nation.  It was also rated by one as the eighth-best Wildcat recruiting class of all time. Master was seen as the best outside shooter in the country.  

As a freshman at Kentucky, Master showed flashes of brilliance.  He played in 27 games, earning three starts.  He scored a season-high 16 points on two different occasions: on January 24, 1981, against Vanderbilt and again on January 31, 1981, against Georgia on national television.  He was sixth on the team in minutes played and averaged 6.5 points.  He hit 85.7 percent from the free throw line  while hitting 45.1 percent from the field overall. but shot especially well in conference games (48.8 percent).

As a sophomore, Master started 29 of UK’s 30 games and was second on the team with a 13.4 scoring average.  He won the SEC free throw title with 89.6% accuracy.  He hit 40 consecutive free throws from December 12, 1981, through January 20, 1982, to break Kyle Macy’s school record and establish the second-longest streak in SEC history.  On December 12, 1981, No. 2 Kentucky defeated Kansas, in Kansas, 77-74.  Master, bombing away from long range, scored 27 points to lead the Wildcats.  It one was of those nights, one of those crazy, wonderful nights. Jim Master was going one-on-five with the Kansas Jayhawks and winning.  From 25 feet and beyond,  Master’s guided missiles rained down on the Jayhawks’ heads. Finally Kelly Knight, the Kansas center, could stand no more. “Hey, man,” he said to Master, “would you quit hitting those jump shots?”  Jim Master’s reply was the laugh of greatness, the smile of self-esteem.  He had played this sort of game before, and he knew full well that, on that night in Lawrence, his hands were imbued with magic.  “Whenever I shoot, I never have a doubt that it’s going in,” Master said. “But there are some games I feel so good, I think I could put it up with my eyes closed and still come closer than most guys with their eyes open.”  On January 6, 1982, Master scored 26 points as third-ranked Kentucky downed Auburn 83-71 in SEC play.  The victory boosted Kentucky to 9-1 overall and kept the Wildcats unbeaten through two league games.  On February 3, 1982, Auburn got payback and upset Kentucky 83-81 in overtime but not before Master scored a career-high 29 points on 11 of 21 from the field.  On February 13, 1982, Master grabbed a team-high and a career-high 9 rebounds. Teammates began calling him “Chairman of the Boards” and “Moses Malone.”  At season’s end, he was awarded for his efforts by being named 3rd team All-SEC.

As a junior, Master was truly outstanding during the last half of the season and carried it over into summer international competition. He led the team in minutes played and averaged 12.5 points per game.  He came only 35 points shy of 1,000 for his career.  Despite being known as a long-range shooter, he shot an outstanding 53.0 percent from the field.  He continued to be one of the top free throw shooters in UK history with an 86.4 career mark.  Master led or tied for team lead in scoring 12 times.  He was ranked second on the team with 71 assists.  On January 3, 1983, Master had made just three of 11 shots and scored only eight points in Kentucky’s last two outings.  It didn’t appear things would be any better against Mississippi when the University of Kentucky junior guard had but three points as the Rebels built a 20-10 advantage.  Master, though, began to find his shot more often and led a surge that lifted the third-ranked Wildcats to a 72-60 triumph in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.  The junior finished with 23 points by hitting nine of 14 floor shots and five of six free throws while playing 38 minutes, his highest total of the season.  “Coming off two bad games. I needed a game like this.” admitted Master.  “My game was on and I’m happy that I could help us come back after we got down by 10 points.”  On January 22, 1983, Master found his shooting eye just in time again as the No. 11 Wildcats claimed first place in the Southeastern Conference basketball race with an overtime victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville.  Master recovered from a mild shooting slump to pour in a game-high 26 points to pace the Wildcats to an 82-77 decision over Vanderbilt. His work allowed Kentucky to claim first place in the SEC with a 5-2 record and sent the 4-3 Commodores into third place.  “They kind of gave us the outside shot and, as far as scoring goes, I felt great because I felt I hit the shots that really counted.” Master said.  “Even during my slump, I wasn’t off very much.” said Master, who made 12 of 16 from the field against the Commodores. “I hadn’t shot any air balls, and that gave me the confidence to keep shooting. ”  On March 26, 1983, against Louisville in the 1983 Mideast Regional finals, Master’s soft 12-foot jump shot went through the basket with one second left to force overtime.  Kentucky had tied Louisville, 62-62, and Louisville could have folded. Instead, Louisville’s clutching, pressing defense and record-breaking accuracy helped it run off the first 14 points in overtime, and the Cardinals raced to an 80-68 victory.  Master was named to the 3rd team All-SEC and to the 1983 All-NCAA Regional team.

In the summer of 1983, Master represented the United States in the Pan American Games and helped them bring home a gold medal.  Master was relegated to a backup role, one the 6-5 senior was not accustomed to in his career at Kentucky, but he made the most of it with a 16-point outing in the gold medal game in only 30 minutes of action. Master shot 49.3 percent from the floor during the games in Caracas, Venezuela.

As a senior, Master played in 33 of 34 games, starting all of them and was third on the team for minutes played.  He averaged 9.6 points per game and led the team in free-throw shooting with 81.1% accuracy.  He ended his career at Kentucky with 1,283 points ranking him 31st on UK’s all-time scoring list.

The talent on each of these Wildcat teams that Master was a part of meant he had a successful career that did not translate into lofty personal statistics. For his career, Master averaged 10.6 points, 2.10 assists, and 1.73 rebounds per game. But his value to the team was demonstrated by his playing time. He averaged 28.7 minutes per game over his career and 31.4 minutes after his freshman year.

As testimony to his keen shooting eye, Master is currently 11th best all-time on the SEC record list for single-season free-throw shooting percentage (.896), and he is tied for 8th best all-time for career free-throw shooting percentage (.849)  Those statistics rank Master 8th best and 4th best, respectively, all-time in Kentucky history.  Master broke Kyle Macy’s consecutive free throw record of 32 by scoring 40 consecutive free throws from December 12, 1981, through January 20, 1982.

Master was one of five Kentucky Wildcats to be drafted in the 1984 NBA Draft.  Melvin Turpin, Sam Bowie, Dickie Beal, and Tom Heitz were also drafted.  Master was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks.

College Statistics:

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