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Dampier a legend among UK stars

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vaught’s Views

Younger University of Kentucky basketball fans likely don’t even know who Louie Dampier was even though he’s in the Naismith Hall of Fame and could be the best shooter ever to have played for the Wildcats. He was part of Rupp’s Runts with Pat Riley, Larry Conley and Tommy Kron that reached the 1966 national title game. When he graduated from UK, he had 1,575 points — the third most in UK history at the time behind only Cotton Nash (1,770) and Alex Groza (1,744). And remember there was no 3-point shot or freshman eligibility then.

His shooting prowess continued in the professional ranks. During the 1968-69 ABA season, Dampier made 199 3-pointers for the Colonels. It took 26 years for another pro player to make more. An even crazier number is that Dampier made 13 percent of the 3-pointers made in the ABA in that one season. He made 198 3’s the next season and 103 in 1970-71. That meant he had 500 3’s in three seasons and he had a record 794 3’s in 10 ABA seasons when he scored 13,726 points but also had 4,044 assists. He also hit a then professional record 57 straight free throws during the 1970-71 season

Former coach Kevin Keathley certainly can attest to Dampier’s 3-point accuracy.

“One time after practice at the Louisville Gardens, I’m talking to the guys at center court and Louie begins shooting in the deep corner about 19-20 feet,” Keathley said.  “As I’m talking, Louie keeps hitting shot after shot. Every one out of three or so you can hear the swoosh of the net. The backspin is creating big time string music. So much so that my team begins to notice Louie not missing and we all just turn and watch.

“I didn’t see him miss for what had to be 3-5 minutes of continuous shooting in the same deep corner spot. By the way, he did this while wearing a huge Denver Nuggets jacket (he was an assistant coach for one year with the Nuggets). He never took it off.

“Once he realized we were watching he said, ‘Sorry, Coach, I didn’t mean to interrupt what you were doing.’ Walked out never missing a shot.”