In this article we will share with Kentucky basketball fans the story a lanky basketball player that came
to Kentucky from Compton, California and left four years later, a legend.
Saturday December 8th 2001 is a day in Kentucky basketball history that those of us who witnessed it,
will never forget. We can tell you where we were, who we were with. It was one of those magical moments in Kentucky Basketball history.
In the first three minutes and forty six seconds of the first Nationally televised game of the year, Tayshaun Prince lit up arch rival North Carolina with five straight 3-Point goals.
Personally, I cannot see this video clip enough, so here it is, and you night want to share this this page with
other BBN fans. Pay close attention and don’t miss his 5th shot, I think he shot it from our office in
Georgetown. This video clip is the definition of Kentucky Swag, I think Tayshaun invented it on this day.
Senior Tayshaun Prince electrified the Rupp Arena crowd that day. Many say it was the loudest Rupp
Arena has ever been. Tayshaun went on to make his first seven shots, six from three-point land. He finished
the game tying is career high 31 points as Kentucky rolled over North Carolina 79 -59. Tar Hill coach Matt
Doherty, and North Carolina, didn’t know what hit them. Those that played with Tayshaun during is four
years and Kentucky and very successful NBA career would tell you he was a great teammate, and team first
However, on this day Prince put on one the most memorable personal performances in Kentucky
basketball history. In our minds it is right there with Rex Chapman’s 26 points against Louisville, and of
course the night none of us will ever forget when “The Goose Got Lose”.
Tayshaun Prince as a Kentucky Wildcat
Tayshaun’s birthday is on February 28, and he was born in 1980. He came to Kentucky as a skinny 6’ 9” small forward from Dominguez High School in Compton, California and left a basketball legend. Today his high school has a murial of Tayshawn painted on the side.
Tayshaun Prince had a 7’ 2” wingspan. The long lanky kid quickly became a fan favorite and was known for being a good guy on and off the court.
Prince delighted Kentucky fans under coach Tubby Smith from 1998 – 2002. He averaged 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds over his career and the Wildcats where 97-39 during those four years.
As expected, Kentucky advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year and Prince was the SEC Player of the year in his junior season (2000 -01) and lead the SEC with a 84.3% free throw percentage.
He was voted all SEC by the associated press in his junior and senior years. Kentucky won the SEC Tournament in 1999 and 2001 Tayshaun was awarded the tournaments MVP in 2001. He was a three-time team MVP for the Kentucky Wildcats during is four years at Kentucky.
Tayshaun Prince will always be remembered for that day in December when he lit up North Carolina. He ended that game as we said earlier with 31 points. Tayshaun had a complete game. He also had 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
In an 87–82 victory over Tulsa during the 2002 NCAA Tournament, Prince scored a career-high 41 points (along with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks) to lead Kentucky to the Sweet 16.
He graduated from Kentucky in 2002 with a degree in sociology.
College Awards & Honors while at UK
- SEC Player of the Year 2001
- Consensus second team All-American 2001
- NABC All-American Second Team 2002
- AP All-American Third Team 2002
- First Team All-SEC (2001, 2002)
- SEC Tournament MVP (2001)
- SEC All-Tournament Team (2001)
Detroit Pistons (2002–2013
He was drafted 23rd in the 2002 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and had a very successful NBA career winning a championship with the pistons in 2004.
ROOKIE YEAR WITH THE PISTONS
It took Detroit Pistons head coach Rick Carlisle the whole season to realized what a talent he had with Tayshaun. Prince was not part of the team’s normal playing rotation and appeared in just 42 of 82 regular-season games.
However, in the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs, Detoit trailed the Orlando Magic by three games to one, finally forcing Carlisle to experiment with a different rotation. Prince was inserted into the lineup and received heavy minutes.
He then became the only player in NBA history to score more points in the
playoffs than in the regular season (137 in the season, 141 in the playoffs).
The Pistons rallied to win the series, and Prince had a breakout performance during the decisive seventh game, scoring 20 points in 24 minutes, which surprised no one in Kentucky. We had been waiting for the Carlisle to wake up all year!
In the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers, Prince continued to see action and made several memorable plays, including a turnaround hook shot, (we saw for four years at Kentucky) , during the final seconds of Game 2, forcing an overtime period which the Pistons went on to win. overtime period that the Pistons went on to win.
Prince went on to have a great, long career with the Detroit Pistons. Early in his career, in 2003 Prince did an interview with Tomi Morris Johnson in Detroit. The article was called THE PISTON’S PRINCE.
At Wildcatgifts.com we think this article really reveals the secret to having a long, productive career in the NBA or in any profession for that matter.
Here was the Question.
JOHNSON: We’ve talked about relationships a lot. With you being an NBA player, I’m sure a lot of people want to be your friend and run with you. I’m sure you have to be really careful about the circles you run in. How do you choose your relationships?
Here was Prince’s Answer
PRINCE: In my situation, it hasn’t been too difficult. Obviously, you have the guys that like to hang out at the clubs, and sometimes that has a tendency to attract people you really don’t want around you.
For me, I don’t put myself in those types of situations, I have to be around the right people. I think people kind of notice that, hey, this guy doesn’t like to put himself out in certain situations.
I think that being that calm-type person, by people really knowing who I am, they can recognize and realize that my name is not out there in the streets. I guess it’s how you want to keep yourself away from those situations. Just stay focused on what you’re doing, just play basketball, have the right group of people around me, and that helps me avoid certain things.
All of Prince’s determination and versatility came to the fore in the finals of the 2004 NBA championship, when he shut down the offense of feared LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant
Sidebar: Rumors had Kobe coming to Kentucky if he had not left high school and went directly to the NBA. For everyone complaining about one and done, how would you like to have never had the opportunity to see the talent we have witnessed in Kentucky, accept on a NBA floor?
Don’t get me started, let me stay on point, anyway. Prince was given credit for shutting down Bryant and was a key contributor to the Piston’s upset victor over the Lakers in five games
The following year the well-oiled Pistons had a strong chance to repeat as NBA champions, and Prince contributed several career bests to the team effort: He notched up his top scoring average (14.7 points per game), field goal percentage (.487), and free throw percentage (.807), among others. In a hard-fought seven-game championship series, the Pistons fell to the San Antonio Spurs as Prince struggled to cope with the hot shooting of Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili. Prince found consolation after the season’s end—in the summer of 2005 he married Farah Brown, whom he had met while at the University of Kentucky.
Prince had a solid NBA career. He was remarkably consistent as a scorer, averaging close to fourteen points per game every year between 2004 and 2008.
In the summer of 2007 he signed a three-year contract with USA Basketball, playing in international contests and becoming part of the pool of players from which the U.S. Olympic basketball team is chosen. In 2008 he accompanied the Pistons to the NBA playoffs for a sixth consecutive year. He was a natural on-court leader for the Pistons and respected by all that played with him.
Tayshaun Prince Today
Tayshaun has worked with the Memphis Grixxlies since 2017.
The Memphis Grizzlies today promoted Tayshaun Prince to Vice President of Basketball Affairs within the franchise’s basketball operations department in 2019.
“We are excited to establish Tayshaun as a core member of our front office,” Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Zachary Z. Kleiman said. “His knowledge of the game is exceptional and we are thrilled he will continue providing valuable contributions to the organization on a day-to-day basis.”
Tayshaun, like most former Wildcats makes it back to Kentucky and Rupp quite often. He is one of us. He is a good guy, that Kentucky fans who saw him play will always respect who he was on and off the court.
He provided for many of us, arguably, one of the Top 5 memories in Kentucky basketball history, the day he lit up North Carolina to start the game, with 5 threes in 3.47 seconds, that last one being form our office in Georgetown