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22 Patrick Sparks

Patrick Sparks
Hometown (Last School)
Central City, KY (Muhlenberg North)
2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06
March 17, 1983

Patrick Sparks was born Patrick Grant Sparks on March 17, 1983, in Central City, Kentucky.  He is the son of Steve and Michelle Sparks and Billenda and Stephen Nabors.

Sparks was the leading scorer in Kentucky (31.4 ppg) as a senior as he led the Muhlenberg North Stars to a 24-8 record.  He scored 24.3 ppg as a junior, 18.9 as a sophomore, and 7.0 as a freshman.  His four MNHS teams went 97-34.  He was coached by his father, Steve.  Sparks holds MNHS records for career scoring (2,653 points), assists (657), rebounds (607) and steals (409).  He also lettered in soccer and cross country.

But for all his success, the team he grew up rooting for, UK, offered him only an opportunity to walk on, with a scholarship possible at a later date.  Ultimately, Sparks decided Western Kentucky’s program offered everything he was seeking.

As a freshman at Western Kentucky, Sparks earned a spot on the Sun Belt All-Tourney Team.  He hit 19-foot-buzzer-beating field goal to lift the Toppers to a 73-72 semifinal victory over New Mexico State and scored 20 points and had nine assists in an NCAA Tournament game against Stanford.  Sparks set WKU rookie records for assists (117), steals (46), and three-point field goals (a team-high 71).  He started the last 14 games, averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 assists.  His first collegiate start came at Denver, scoring 19 points and adding eight assists and a steal.  He scored in double figures in 20 games.

As a sophomore at Western Kentucky, Sparks averaged 13.6 points and 5.9 assists for the 24-9 Hilltoppers.  He was named first-team All-Sun Belt Conference and Most Outstanding Player of the Sun Belt Tournament.  He averaged 15.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in leading the Hilltoppers to their third consecutive conference tournament championship,  Sparks helped lead WKU to the NCAA Tournament.  He was among the Sun Belt leaders in five categories — assists (first), steals (third), assist-to-turnover ratio (third), three-point field goals per game (fifth) and scoring (14th).  Sparks was named the SBC Player of the Week Feb. 24 after averaging 19 points, six rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in wins over Florida International and Ball State.  He earned first career Sun Belt Player-of-the-Week honor Jan. 20 after averaging 19 points, 9.5 assists, five rebounds and 3.5 steals per game in a pair of Hilltopper wins.

In April 2003, Dennis Felton, Western Kentucky’s head coach, was hired as the head coach at the University of Georgia.  After Felton left, Sparks decided he wanted a chance to play for Kentucky.  The Wildcats didn’t have a scholarship, so he paid his own way and sat out the 2003-04 season.

As a junior at Kentucky, Sparks started all 34 games in his first season at Kentucky.  He was named second-team All-SEC by coaches and third team by AP.  Sparks forced overtime against Michigan State with a double-clutch three-pointer that bounced in after time had expired.  He earned SEC Player of the Week honors for the second time after scoring a season-high 26 points in  the win at Alabama.  Sparks scored 20 points in the second half and finished 7-of-10 on three-pointers vs. the Tide.  He was Top 10 in the SEC in three-point percentage (8th at .376) and three-pointers made (5th at 2.41/game).  Kentucky was 17-1 when he made at least two three-pointers.  Sparks reached 1,000 career points with 15 at Vanderbilt.  He was named the SEC and National Player of the Week following his 25-point, five-rebound, three-assist performance at Louisville.  Sparks drained three free throws with 0.6 seconds left to provide UK the winning margin over UL.  He keyed UK’s 25-8, second-half run with 12- straight points as the Cats rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to win.  The Louisville performance gained him a place in the hearts of Kentucky fans. 

Coach Tubby Smith said of Sparks, “Patrick has been an excellent leader. He’s a gutsy, hard-nosed kid who plays with a passion. He’s out there every day in gym, shooting every day. He’s a leader, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted him in our program because he brings all the intangibles to the team. He’s not overwhelmingly gifted athletically, but he does all the little things to make the team better.”

As a senior at Kentucky, Sparks started all 35 games.  Sparks had 25 points in Kentucky’s early-season win over West Virginia. He had a UK-best 26 in a crucial, late-season victory at South Carolina.  And  — surprise! — it was Sparks’ defense on Chris Lofton that helped Kentucky score its best victory of the season, upsetting Tennessee in Knoxville.  Sparks equaled a career-high 28 points (he scored 28 points previously with WKU), 19 of which came in the second half, in his final game as a Wildcat.  That performance came in a loss to Connecticut in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.  He finished the season with 340 points, 110 assists and 26 steals to go along with 64 3-pointers.

UK fans will long remember “the little guy” for his penchant for making pressure shots. Few players in Kentucky blue have ever produced more signature moments in a two-year period.  He earned his stripes in Wildcat blue with heady play and eagle-eyed shooting, especially from beyond the arc.

College Statistics:



Career Totals


Patrick Sparks’s game-tying 3-pointer in the 2005 Elite 8 against Michigan State

The dramatic finish to the classic 2004 Kentucky vs. Louisville game

On This Day In UK Basketball History

On March 2, 1970, Dan Issel scored 42 points against Auburn.


On March 2, 1991, before a crowd of 24,310, the then-largest crowd in Rupp arena history, the Wildcats closed out the 1990-91 season with a 22-6 overall record. Although UK was ineligible for the SEC title because of probation, the Wildcats secured the best record in the league (14-4) with a 114-93 win over Auburn to end its two-year probation. A ceremony and parade followed.


On March 2, 1996, with a 101-63 victory over Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena on Senior Day, UK became the first team in 40 years to finish with a perfect record in the SEC, a 16-0 sweep. It was the Wildcats’ 25th win in a row, tying the school record for consecutive wins in a season. Two games later, they set the new record at 27 games.


On March 2, 2012, Darius Miller, in his final performance at Rupp Arena, led Kentucky in scoring with 17 points on Senior Night in a 30-point win over Georgia.


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