LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball Hall of Famer and radio analyst Mike Pratt died Thursday after a battle with cancer.
He was 73.
A Dayton, Ohio, native, Pratt played for Kentucky from 1966 to 1970. He was a two-time first-team All-SEC selection. As a senior, Pratt was named a Converse second-team All-American after averaging 19.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Pratt spent two seasons playing for the Kentucky Colonels in the American Basketball Association before starting a coaching career. As an assistant coach, he helped lead Charlotte to the 1977 NCAA Final Four.
Pratt later served as head coach at Charlotte for four seasons, compiling a 56-52 record.
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In October 2001, Pratt was named the men’s basketball color analyst for the UK radio network. He continued his duties alongside play-by-play man Tom Leach in recent years while undergoing cancer treatments.
Pratt also hosted a radio show in Louisville with fellow Kentucky basketball legend Dan Issel, who he played with for both UK and the Colonels.
“My heart is broken,” Leach said. “He was more brother than broadcaster partner to me and producer Jim Barnhart through so many good times. We loved him just like the Big Blue Nation did. He was an outstanding basketball analyst, but an even better husband, father, grandfather and friend.”
At the time he was hired to be the radio analyst for Kentucky basketball games, Pratt was working as a TV analyst for Fox Sports South. The initial salary offer was not enough to convince Pratt to join the broadcast team, according to the 2021 book he wrote with Leach, but UK was able to increase the salary to a point Pratt was comfortable making the move from television to radio.
The initial commitment was just for one season to test the chemistry between Leach and Pratt, who were replacing Ralph Hacker and Sam Bowie on the radio broadcasts.
The duo ended up working 20 seasons together. Pratt’s last call was Kentucky’s shocking NCAA Tournament loss to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in March.
“We have a great team,” Pratt wrote in the book. “Jimmy Barnhart is the best producer in the world, and I think the three of us fit well. It’s like a family. It’s been wonderful.”
Pratt served on the coaching search committee that eventually brought John Calipari to UK in 2009. That same year, he was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.
In July 2019, Pratt had a tumor removed from his colon. The cancer later spread to his liver, jaw and back.
In May, family members launched a fundraising effort to help pay for an experimental treatment. Calipari pledged $50,000 to the campaign.
According to the campaign website, Pratt was scheduled to begin the treatment on June 16, the day he died.
“We lost a family member, a part of the Kentucky family and a friend. If you ever had the pleasure of meeting Mike Pratt, you knew what a special person he was,” Calipari said. was an integral part in helping me become head coach here. Ellen and I will forever be grateful to him for his support and kindness. We should all be thankful that he was in our lives. Mike knew that the University and the Big Blue Nation loved him, and they never forgot what he did as a player and then later as a connection for the program.
Pratt is survived by his wife, Marcia Schmidt Pratt; brother, Patrick Pratt; daughter, Tamaryn Pratt; son, Christopher Pratt; stepchildren, Christina Stone, Andy Schutz and Tim Schutz as well as 10 grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Kentuckiana Friends of V. Plans for a celebration of life are being finalized.
“Forget about the basketball, forget about the broadcasting, I think the legacy that Mike leaves is he was just a darn good guy,” Issel said Friday morning in his first episode of his ESPN 680 radio show since Pratt’s death. “He never met a stranger, he always had time for everybody, and I’m going to miss him dearly. I can take solace in the fact that I know where he is right now. My friend will never have to feel that excruciating pain again.”
Email Jon Hale at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.