LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Before Vernon Hatton was an All-American at UK, he was Kentucky's first high school player of the year. Hatton won the honor following his senior season at Lafayette.
On Tuesday, before Lafayette hosted Lexington Catholic, Hatton was honored by the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation. The Louisville-based organization presented the former player with a ring, inscribed with "Mr. Basketball, 1954."
While Hatton won the state's top honor in 1954, it wasn't until 1956 that the award became known as Mr. Basketball.
"It's one of the greatest ones I've had," Hatton said.
"It's been 62 years since maybe I should have got one. I kept sending them a check every year, telling them I needed one," he joked.
Hatton would go on to play for Adolph Rupp and the Wildcats and is considered a basketball legend. He helped lead UK to the 1958 national title by scoring 30 points in the championship game.
Hatton said one of his fondest memories is winning a state championship with Lafayette in 1953.