Kyle Macy was the glue that held the 1977-78 NCAA champion Kentucky Wildcats together. But the steady, intelligent guard, who made wiping his hands on his socks before shooting a free throw popular, had to recruit himself to coach Joe B. Hall or he wouldn’t have been in Lexington.
Macy, who spoke at the Christian County Chapter of the UK Alumni Club tip-off dinner Thursday night at the Christian County Ag Extension Office in Hopkinsville, began his college career at Purdue. But early in his freshman season with the Boilermakers, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball knew the program wasn’t a fit for him and he began thinking about transferring.
“After my freshman year I just kind of went back and reviewed the season and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be from talking to the coaches during the recruiting process and I wasn’t really happy there,” Macy said before Thursday’s dinner. “I think it’s important no matter what you’re doing that you need to enjoy it, so I decided to transfer.”
When he chose Purdue, Macy said there were only two schools he was interested in – the Boilermakers and Kentucky. So, when he wasn’t happy in West Lafaytette, Ind., he decided to move to
Lexington. Only he had a problem. Kentucky didn’t normally take transfers.“I had to recruit myself to Coach Hall and set up a meeting and I came down and talked to him,” Macy said. “I went through the whole process of talking to him and selling myself. He finally gave in and said I could come down. I sat out one year and fortunately was able to play.”
Macy sat out the 1976-77 season in which the Wildcats lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. But when he joined the lineup in 1977-78, Kentucky was a near unanimous preseason choice to win the NCAA championship. They returned seniors James Lee, Rick Robey, Mike Phillips and Jack “Goose” Givens. They also included point guard Truman Claytor, who Hall signed after Macy initially chose Purdue.
“I never really told Kentucky no, I was just really late in deciding. I mean it was into May and I still hadn’t made a decision,” Macy said. “It got to the point where they didn’t want to lose out on two guards. They were also recruiting Truman Claytor. They kind of said we need to know something one way or the other. I wasn’t ready to commit so they went ahead and signed Truman.”
At Kentucky, Macy and Claytor proved to be excellent teammates. Their guard leadership was a perfect match for a team already loaded with a powerful inside game of Phillips and Robey and a scorer with Givens. Macy said the year he had to sit out after transferring helped him see where the Wildcats needed to improve before the 1977-78 season and he was able to fill in the gaps.
“I wasn’t a dominant player but I fit a pretty good puzzle piece in that mix and everything worked out well,” he said.
After graduating from Kentucky, Macy enjoyed a seven-year NBA career spent mostly with the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls. He also had a brief stint playing professionally overseas before he retired.
Macy eventually got into coaching and earned the head coaching position at Morehead State, where he led the program for nine seasons. Some thought with a little success, Macy may eventually have been a candidate to be the Wildcats’ coach. He said it was something he definitely wanted, but ultimately never achieved.
“I didn’t set that as my ultimate goal, I was just trying to coach and do the best I could and get that experience so I could move to a bigger program because it would have been nice to have a program that you have something to recruit to,” Macy said. “It all comes down to you have to have players. You can be a great coach, but if you don’t have players it’s real difficult.”
Macy now works for the Big Blue Network and also works for Westwood One Network during the NCAA tournament as a broadcaster. During the offseason, he teaches tennis at a country club in Lexington and also serves as a high school tennis coach.
“I played tennis growing up and really enjoyed the sport,” Macy said. “But for some reason in college, I had to quit playing. I guess I was doing something else.”
And Kentucky fans are forever thankful he was.
Joe Wilson can be reached by telephone at 887-3260 or by e-mail at email@example.com.