LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Former University of Kentucky letter winner Billy Evans passed away Sunday at the age of 88.
Evans played for the Wildcats from 1952-55 and was a member of the freshman squad in 1951. The Berea native scored 716 points and grabbed 549 rebounds in 83 games at Kentucky. He played at prep basketball at Berea High.
He played alongside former Kentucky standouts Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey and Lou Tsioropoulos. Evans averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in his final season with the Wildcats.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t put me in the same boat with Hagan and Ramsey, who were All-Americans, but life was all better for me for having played basketball there,” Evans said in an oral history interview produced by the university.
While with the Wildcats, Kentucky went 77-6, including a 25-0 mark in the 1953-54 season.
“Billy Evans is among the great players from our commonwealth who helped build the tradition of University of Kentucky basketball,” said Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart. “His legacy as an all-around athlete and a winner always will be part of our history. Our condolences are with his wife, Nancy, and his family and friends.”
Evans was drafted in the fifth round of the 1955 NBA Draft by the Rochester Royals and won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics and the 1959 Pan American Games. He was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in the charter class and his jersey hangs in the Rupp Arena rafters.
“It’s special,” Evans said of his jersey retirement. “I don’t go around to everybody and say, ‘Look up there,’ but it’s an honor. I’m happy to be there.”