Champs get their rings

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Earl Adkins and his teammates from the University of Kentucky's 1958 NCAA championship basketball team have waited a long time for their championship rings -- 50 years to be exact.

Adkins, who lives in Shelbyville, said when the team won the title the players received only wristwatches. Adkins' watch has long since stopped working.

And now that the championship ring is on his hand, Adkins said he is glad to have a visible symbol of the team's accomplishment and to no longer have to explain to folks why he doesn't have a ring.

"It shows that we were champions," he said.

The team, known as the "Fiddlin' Five," gave UK its fourth and final NCAA championship under coach Adolph Rupp.

The ring is set with a large blue stone and has "Kentucky Wildcats, 1958 NCAA Champions" inscribed around the stone.

On one side is inscribed "Fiddlin' Five" and "UK," and the other has Adkins' number -- 40. The rings cost close to $250 and were purchased at the players' expense.

Adkins, 74, was the sixth man on the championship team, playing guard and forward.

Adkins said the ring idea was born last November during a 50th anniversary celebration of the school's championship.

During the exhibition game between UK and Seattle to commemorate the 1958 championship game, Adkins "took a poll" of the team members about their interest in having the rings made. He said all were in favor of rings.

Adkins then got in touch with fellow Shelbyville resident and UK player Mike Casey to help in the endeavor. Casey, a sales representative for Balfour, helped design the rings and coordinate the project.

Adkins said along with 1958 championship team, he also had rings made for the 1948 "Fabulous Five" team.

Sadly, before Adkins was able to present the ring to UK legend Ralph Beard, Beard passed away.