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30 Stan Key

Stan Key
Hometown (Last School)
Hazel, KY (Calloway County)
1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72
February 2, 1950

Stan Key was born Stanley Ryan Key on February 2, 1950, in Hazel, Kentucky to Calvin Key and Gwen Dailey Key.  Key stood at 6-foot-3 and weighed 186 pounds. He was a guard for the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team under the legendary coach Adolph Rupp.

Stan Key started playing with a rubber ball when he was four, joined an organized basketball team in the fifth grade, graduated from Calloway County High School as a four-year starter with
an amazing 2,100 career points.

During a brilliant high school career that included unanimous All-State honors, Key was a 5-11 starter with an eight-point average as a freshman. He grew to 6-1 that first year and added another inch as a junior. Since he was the biggest man on the team, he usually played forward or the pivot. He played a little at guard during his senior year where he averaged 29.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

One of his great high school moments was a regional scoring record of 53 points set against South Marshall. He also lettered four years in baseball, hitting .531 as a senior.

Key was contacted by some 130 schools who wanted him to come play for them.  Unfortunately Key only considered one other school besides Kentucky.  That was Vanderbilt but Kentucky was his final choice.  With Joe B. Hall in attendance, Key signed to play for Kentucky on March 27, 1968.  He joined Tom Parker, Randy Noll, Mark Soderberg, Kent Hollenbeck, and Jim Jarrell in that year’s recruiting class.

An honor student, Key was a playmaker and a steadying influence on the 1968-69 freshman team. He averaged 12 points a game for the Kittens.

Key made the starting team at the University of Kentucky on his 20th birthday in 1970.

The cool redhead from Hazel, Ky., entered the Auburn game on February 2 under the most unusual pressure for a sophomore. The Tigers, led by John Mengelt, had zipped to leads of 13-3, 15-5, and 22-1 1 as Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats tried to get their offensive and defensive attacks in gear.  Mengelt did the most damage in those opening minutes, scoring against Bob McCowan the first
five times he got the ball.

Rupp looked down the bench, called time out, and sent in Key to put the “stopper” on Auburn’s hot junior guard.  Key, who turned 20 that day, had accumulated playing time of less than 100 minutes in 14 games.

“I put Stan in because McCowan couldn’t handle Mengelt,” Rupp said. “I not only put him in for defense but for offense as well.”

“I was scared to death,” Key said. “I knew the main reason I went in was to stop Mengelt.  I didn’t do too good a job.”

Rupp disagreed. “Mengelt only made one basket and some free throws before Stan fouled out,” he said. ‘ ‘Stan did a fine job.”

The big surprise was on offense, however, as Key took the ball on the left flank, he noticed the defense collapsing on center Dan Issel and bombarded a net-tickling jump shot from 25 feet. Key hit five of those shots in a row and the ‘Cats were back in the game.

“Just one of those nights,” Key said later. “You need a lot of luck.”

The performance earned a starting berth for Key, who played well against Mississippi and Mississippi State the following weekend and took a firm hold on a starting position.

“I knew I had the chance to start,” he said.  “I was just hoping that everything would go together.”

Key wound up starting 8 games as a sophomore before it was all over.  Key averaged 3.5 points per game in 26 games.

As a junior, Key was relegated to a reserve role playing 154 minutes in 20 games.

Key was part of a team that won the SEC regular season championship and was ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll. The team also reached the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Regional Runner-up position.

As a senior at Kentucky, Key was a season-long starter for Coach Rupp as the Wildcats swept to another Southeastern Conference championship and moved into the NCAA playoffs. In 28 games,
Stan logged 966 minutes of playing time, scoring 350 points for a 12.5 average. He hit 50.2 percent from the field (135-for-269) and 83. percent from the free-throw line (80-96).  Key led the team in assists in 1972 and received the team’s Leadership Award.

During his career, Key played in 74 games, averaging 18 minutes a game, 196 field goals made, 403 free throws attempted, 120 rebounds, 152 assists, and 512 total points. His field goal percentage was 48.64, and he had a free throw percentage of 78.95. He also averaged 6.9 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.  These statistics demonstrate his consistent performance and impact on the team.

Key earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree in education from Murray State University in 1977. He was in the position of associate director of the UK Alumni Association from 1990 to 1998. In 1998, Key became the director of UK Alumni Affairs and executive director of the UK Alumni Association and as secretary to the association’s board of directors. He retired in 2017 after 27 years, 10 months of service to the University of Kentucky.  He is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a UK Fellow. He and his wife, Mary Jane Key, whom he married in between his sophomore and junior seasons at Kentucky in 1970, have two sons, Ryan and Neil, both UK grads.

Key’s role in the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program was multifaceted, encompassing his on-court contributions and his part in the team’s overall success. His legacy in the sport of basketball is tied to his time at the University of Kentucky, where he was a key player on a team that achieved significant success.

College Statistics:


1969-70 26 10.0 1.4 2.9 .493 0.8 1.2 .667 1.3 1.5 1.3 3.6
1970-71 20 7.7 1.2 3.0 .407 1.0 1.3 .769 1.4 1.2 3.4
1971-72 28 34.5 4.8 9.6 .502 2.9 3.4 .833 2.4 3.2 2.9 12.5
Career 74 18.6 2.6 5.4 .486 1.6 2.1 .789 1.7 1.9 6.9


1969-70 26 260 37 75 .493 20 30 .667 34 39 35 94
1970-71 20 154 24 59 .407 20 26 .769 27 23 68
1971-72 28 966 135 269 .502 80 96 .833 66 89 82 350
Career 74 1380 196 403 .486 120 152 .789 127 128 140 512

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