Because Wallace Jones’ younger sister could not pronounce
“Wallace,” she gave him the nickname “Wah Wah” — a nickname
synonymous with UK sports and endeared to sports fans worldwide.
Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones was a two-sport All-American at the
University of Kentucky, playing for legendary coaches Adolph Rupp
and Bear Bryant, winning two national championships and an NIT.
Jones is the only player at the University of Kentucky to have his
jerseys retired in both basketball and football. Jones is best known as starting forward on the “Fabulous Five,” a 1948 NCAA championship team that is still considered by many to be the best in UK history.
During his 4 years playing UK basketball, the team won 130 of its 140 games and never lost to a SEC team. He won a gold medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics with Rupp’s “Fabulous Five” and the Phillip 66ers. After college, Jones went on to play in the National
Basketball Association with the Indianapolis Olympians.
Perhaps less known about Wah Wah Jones is the fact that he was also a four year starter on the UK football team. He was a Southern Conference first-team end in 1946 and Central Press All-American in football in 1947. In addition to basketball and football, Jones excelled in baseball. He was a pitcher for the Wildcats and lettered 3 years in this sport.
Before arriving at UK, Wah Wah Jones led Harlan to the State Basketball Tournament for four consecutive years. As a junior in 1944, he became the toast of Kentucky when he scored 73 points over the course of the four-game tourney to lead Harlan to the 1944 state title. As a senior, Jones got Harlan back to the Sweet Sixteen semi- finals before the Dragons were eliminated. He ended his State Tournament career with 223 points scored in the Sweet Sixteen. He finished his high school basketball career with a total of 2,398 points – at that time the highest point total in the nation.
Jones is a member of the Kentucky High School Hall of Fame, a charter member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, and a member of the UK Hall of Fame. He has received numerous awards and recognition’s. Some of those include Southeastern Conference Kentucky Football Legend 1996, Kentucky End 1945-1948, Southeastern Conference Basketball Legend 2001, and Kentucky Forward 1946-1949.
Wah Wah Jones is the only player in the SEC to receive the Living
Legend Award in Football and Basketball. During his tremendous
athletic career, Jones was the image of sportsmanship and is
respected throughout the world.
In 2014, the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation presented the 1st Annual “Wah Wah” Jones Award to an outstanding student athlete Blake Ellis. The criteria to be nominated is below:
- Student/Athlete who has participated in multiple sports
- Possesses high athletic ability as an all-around athlete
- Displays sportsperson like conduct on and off the playing area
- Demonstrates skills and dedication in their chosen sports
- Is in good standing with school behavior
- Shows leadership, dedication and spirit both in sports and in school
- Shows respect of coaches, referees and teammates
- Shows a positive example to their teammates through play and attitude
Nominations were accepted from coaches and athletic directors from across the state and submitted to the Jones family who determined the finalist.