Updated: Feb 10
Another UK legend will be making his way into the depths of Rupp Arena tonight, to cast his guidance over the future of the program, starting now and ending never. The late, great Mike Pratt will have his jersey retired and propelled into the rafters, never having the number 22 worn again by another Kentucky basketball player.
Mike Pratt lived an exceptional life in the Commonwealth after arriving on campus for his freshman season in 1967, where he went on to become a second-team All-American in 1970 and a two-time first-team All-Southeastern Conference choice by the league's coaches (1969 and ’70). Not to forget, he also earned an Academic All-American honor in his senior year. Pratt was a starter at UK for three seasons where he averaged 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds during his 81 career games, for a total of 1,359 points and 718 rebounds.
After his collegiate playing career, Mike played two seasons with the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association and was later an assistant coach on UNC Charlotte’s 1977 Final Four Team, before becoming head coach of the 49ers in 1978. Following a stint as a professional scout, he then moved into broadcasting in 1985. Pratt worked with the Charlotte Hornets Television Network, ESPN and Fox Sports South, until returning back to the Kentucky beat. He rejoined the program in 2001-02 as the analyst, alongside play-by-play announcer Tom Leach, for UK Sports Network radio broadcasts of the Wildcats’ men’s basketball games. Mike held that role for 21 years through the 2021-22 season, calling games coached by Orlando “Tubby” Smith, Billy Gillispie and John Calipari. He was on the call for 558 wins, highlighted by Calipari’s 2012 National Championship victory. The Wildcats also claimed the SEC regular-season title eight times, the SEC Tournament crown eight times and advanced to four Final Fours and nine Elite Eights during Pratt’s time on the radio team.
With many hearts filled with sadness, Mike Pratt passed away on June 16, 2022. Tonight, his legacy will continue as his jersey will be officially retired at halftime during the matchup against Florida.
“It is with deep gratitude that we recognize the contributions of Mike Pratt by raising his banner in the rafters of Rupp Arena,” athletics director Mitch Barnhart said. “From his time as an All-America and All-SEC player, helping lead us to championship seasons, to his two decades of insightful commentary on our radio broadcasts, Mike occupies a special place in the hearts of the Big Blue Nation and the history of UK Athletics. We look forward to honoring the Pratt family at this event.”
“I could not be more excited for Mike and his family to be honored in this way,” Calipari said. “His jersey in the rafters ensures he will be remembered forever and there is not a player or representative of this program that is more deserving of this special recognition.”
The native of Dayton, Ohio, Pratt was part of one of the best trios in program history under legendary head coach Adolph Rupp. The trio, which included Dan Issel and Mike Casey, led UK to three SEC championships and two Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. During those three years, Kentucky compiled a 71-12 overall record, including 48-6 in league action. (Casey did not play the 1969-70 season because of injury but did return a year later.)
The former Wildcat was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019. His will be the 45th retired jersey to hang in the rafters of the arena.
You will not be forgotten, Mr. Pratt.