The only one of the Unforgettables who didn't grow up in Kentucky, Woods was also everything that Farmer, Feldhaus and Pelphrey weren't: quick, athletic, a great penetrator and desired by just about every team in the country. The 6'2" point guard from Indianapolis's Cathedral High School was one of the nation's top 50 recruits. Woods had family in Lexington and remembers going to Memorial Coliseum with his cousins and watching players such as Sam Bowie and Dirk Minniefield play pickup. "I went to camp at Kentucky," Woods says, "and I fell in love with the place. That was my Number 1 school."
Woods has a vivid recollection of the day he and the rest of the players were introduced to Pitino. In a team meeting in June 1989 Woods remembers the new coach saying, "We're going to win, and we're going to win right away." Recalls Woods, "And when you looked into his eyes, you believed in him."
Woods will never forget Pitino's first season, when the team exceeded expectations by going 14-14. Three games in particular stand out: the two-point loss to No. 14 Indiana when many were expecting a blowout ("That's when we knew we could play," Woods says); the 55-point loss at No. 2 Kansas one week later ("Our lineup was down to walk-ons at the end," he says, "and coach Pitino still wanted to press"); and the biggest win that year—a 100-95 victory against that No. 9 LSU team featuring O'Neal, Jackson and Roberts. Woods, who played briefly in the CBA and in Australia, never grew up a Kentucky fan, but he is one now. "My office is a shrine to UK basketball," he says. " Kentucky goes with me wherever I am. It's part of my family."
TWENTY YEARS AFTER GRADUATING FROM MASON County High, Feldhaus lives in his hometown of Maysville with his wife, Amy, and their newborn son, Jake, in a town house adjacent to the golf course that he co-owns and operates with his stepmom, Lee Anne, and his dad, Allen, a former Kentucky basketball player in the early '60s under Adolph Rupp.
Back in the '70s the family had a Nerf goal in their basement. Feldhaus would ask his parents to play public address announcers, calling out his name and those of his two older brothers as if they were in the starting lineup for the Wildcats. "I was the biggest Kentucky fan ever," says Feldhaus, who was born in Lexington.
So what is unforgettable for Feldhaus? Like Farmer, it was being recruited by Kentucky, because that fulfilled a dream.
Despite being one of the top prospects in the state after his junior year at Mason County, the 6'7" forward did not pique the interest of Coach Sutton until the summer of '86, when he played for a traveling all-star team. Feldhaus's performance on that squad earned him a home visit from Sutton, who arrived in Maysville by helicopter, landing on the school's football field. By the end of the night, Kentucky's biggest fan had an offer to become a Wildcat. "That," he says, "was the best day of my life."
THOUGH HE IS NOW THE COACH FOR SEC RIVAL Arkansas, Pelphrey doesn't hide his love for Wildcats basketball. "I loved playing at the University of Kentucky," he says. "I tried to soak it up every single day. I felt like I was a kid at Disney World, and I wanted to get two more rides in before the park closed."
Pelphrey has never forgotten what coach Pitino told the Wildcats when he took over at Kentucky. "You will work harder than you have ever worked in your entire basketball life," Pitino said. "But you're going to have more fun playing the game than you've ever had as well."
When Pelphrey took the job as coach at Arkansas in April, Pelphrey remembered Pitino's words and told the Razorbacks the same thing. He also cites an example of the work ethic Pitino ingrained into his teams: In the second game of the Unforgettables' senior season, Kentucky lost to Pittsburgh in Rupp Arena in the preseason NIT, costing the team a chance to play in New York City and Pitino an opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in his hometown. As punishment, Pitino made the Wildcats practice three times a day for nine straight days. "As painful as it was not being able to play in New York," Pelphrey recalls, "it may have been the best thing for us."