Pratt values local upbringing, Kentucky ties

Mike Pratt has been involved in a variety of pursuits since his standout basketball career at the University of Kentucky.

The 1966 Meadowdale High School grad played two years for the ABA Kentucky Colonels, was a head coach for four years at UNC Charlotte (career record: 55-52) and provided commentary on college basketball games for ESPN and Fox television.

Since 2002, he’s been the color analyst for Kentucky basketball games on its 90-station state-wide radio network.

Pratt, 61, who lives in Louisville and is married with two grown children and four grandchildren (18 months and younger), will be inducted into the Kentucky (state) Athletic Hall of Fame today.

Q: What was it like playing at Kentucky?

A: "It was a special time. I came after 'Rupp's Runts' and then they had a bad year. (Pat) Riley hurt his back, and the only one left was (Louie) Dampier, who was about as good a shooter that's ever come along. ... They went 13-13, and the next year we won the SEC. My senior year, we were the No. 1 team in the country. ... I was lucky enough to have some great teammates."

Q: Turning down Dayton had to be tough for a local player in that era.

A: "It really was. Coach (Don) Donoher started recruiting me when I was very young in high school. My whole family grew up Flyer fans. When Dayton offered me a scholarship, it was unbelievable — more so than it if it would have been Ohio State. Coach Donoher and (assistant Chuck) Grigsby were great men. (All-American) Don May was someone I looked up to in high school. Him and (Bill) Hosket were like heroes to me.

“It’s odd what you remember, but I was at Meadowdale playing a baseball game, and coach Donoher came and I had to tell him I was going to Kentucky. It was a very difficult day for me. It was down to Dayton and Kentucky. I got to know him, and my mom and dad got to know him and respected him. But I look back and I was very fortunate (to have a choice of both).”

Q: Kentucky fans are pretty passionate, aren't they?

A: "To say the least. But you've got that at Dayton, too. It really encompasses the state. It's like Ohio State football. The fan base is unforgiving. But they've always been that way. "

Q: But you get to be around Ashley Judd.

A: "That's not too bad (laughing). She's a very big fan. There have been other people I've met along the way that are Kentucky fans. It's just a unique experience to be a part of the program."

Q: What was Adolph Rupp like?

A: "Very intense. Very demanding. I know a lot of people thought he didn't care about anything but basketball, but he was always into his players earning their degree. He had way more successful doctors and lawyers than he had successful basketball players."

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: "I lived at the Gettysburg and Hillcrest crossing. ... Meadowdale was a very good school then. I don't know if I would have gotten through college if I didn't take some of those classes there. Back then, if you flunked, you went to Vietnam. I wasn't going to get stuck in that situation."

About the Author