Unlike other elite contests designed to highlight the individual talents of rising stars, this annual series puts a premium on team play, defense and state pride.
â€œThis is not a normal all-star game,â€ said Covington Holmes coach Jason Booher, who will lead the Kentucky boys against their neighbors to the north on June 8 at Freedom Hall and June 9 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. â€œThis is for all the bragging rights between two states, both of which have rich traditions in basketball.â€
Kentucky players report for practice this Saturday (June 2) and Game Director Dave Satterly said the rivalry is as intense as ever. â€œNormally when you have an all-star game, itâ€™s more of an offensive-minded game. This is not that by any means. Itâ€™s absolutely a war out there.â€
The annual matchup, which began in 1940 and grew into a two-game home-and-home series in 1955, is the longest running all-star game in the country. A girlsâ€™ series was added in 1976 and new this year is a series for juniors that will be played at Heritage Christian in Indianapolis on June 15 and North Oldham High School on June 16.
Even with the emphasis on results, Wâ€™s have been nearly impossible to come by in recent years for the Kentucky boys. Indiana has won 24 of the past 27 matchups and leads the series 85-42 overall.
The Hoosiersâ€™ roster this year is composed of 13 D-I signees, led by McDonaldâ€™s All-Americans Gary Harris and Yogi Ferrell.
Harris was named Mr. Basketball after averaging 25.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in his final season at Hamilton Southeastern in suburban Indianapolis. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has signed with Michigan State.
Ferrell, a 5â€™ 11â€™â€™ point guard, signed with Indiana University after averaging 18 points a game for Park Tudor (Indianapolis) last season.
â€œObviously weâ€™ve got our hands full,â€ said Booher. â€œTalent is in cycles and right now Indiana has some really good, talented players coming through.â€
Despite the advantage on paper, Trinity standout and 2012 Kentucky Mr. Basketball, Nathan Dieudonne, said his side shouldnâ€™t be counted out.
â€œIf we can get our team chemistry downâ€¦I think we have a good chance of contesting them,â€ the 6-foot-6 Boston University signee said. â€œThey expect to blow us out and weâ€™re going to go in there with an open mind and try to win the game.â€
Dieudonne, who averaged 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, is joined on the team by Trinity teammate Charles Foster (12.1 ppg., 3.8 rpg.), who said egos will take a backseat.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter who starts. Weâ€™ve got some good players coming off the bench and good players that are going to start,â€ Foster said.Â â€œIt doesnâ€™t really matter to us; we just want to play basketball.â€
Mekale McKay of Moore was chosen for the team, but according to Booher, the 6-foot-6 two-sport star wonâ€™t be able to play due to summer school obligations at Arkansas, where he has signed to play football. Jeril Taylor of Pleasure Ridge Park (13.8 ppg., 7.8 rpg.) rounds out the teamâ€™s Louisville contingent.
â€œI think this is a great time for us to get back,â€ said Taylor. â€œThereâ€™s no telling what can happen on any given night.â€
Indiana leads the girlsâ€™ series 40-32, but it is the Kentucky squad, led by Miss Basketball Sydney Moss of Boone County (23.3 ppg., 10.3 rpg.) and four members of state champion Manual, that is favored this year. April Wilson, Kara Wright, Lauren Bodine and LeAsia Wright are the Crimsons who will get one last shot to play under Manual coach Stacy Pendleton, who is directing the Kentucky team.
â€œIâ€™ve found that these higher-caliber kids are more eager to be coached and taught than anybody,â€ said Pendleton, who has high expectations for his team. â€œIâ€™m going to be very disappointed in anything less than a sweep.â€
Other selections from the area are South Oldhamâ€™s Jasmine Whitfield (22.5 ppg.) and Mercy twins Christine (13.1 ppg., 4.8 assists per game) and Courtney Roush (11 ppg., 5.2 rpg).
â€œWeâ€™re going to push the tempo and pressure the ball,â€ said Pendleton. â€œIt should be a fun game to watch.â€
All proceeds from the game at Freedom Hall will benefit the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation.
Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Classic
June 8 at Freedom Hall.
5:30 p.m. (girlsâ€™ game first, then boysâ€™)
Tickets are $10 and $19 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 502.367.5144.
June 9 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Tickets ranging from $5-$100 are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800.745.3000.
Kentucky Boysâ€™ Roster
NAME SCHOOL HEIGHT COLLEGE
*Nathan Dieudonne Trinity 6-6 Boston
Matt Day Buckhorn 6-7 Virginia-Wise
Charles Foster Trinity 6-0 Morehead
Jay Johnson Woodford County 6-7 Tennessee Tech
Twin Lancaster Logan County 6-2 undecided
Tamron Manning Scott County 6-3 Marshall
Jaysean Paige Perry County Central 6-1 Southern Idaho
Bopper Stenzel Clark County 6-0 Georgetown (Ky.)
Jeril Taylor PRP 6-3 Rend Lake (Ill.)
Mike Terry Fairview 6-7 undecided
D.J. Townsend Rowan County 5-10 Georgetown (Ky.)
Adam Wing Rowan County 6-4 Evansville
Mekale McKay (x) Moore 6-6 Arkansas (football)
Head coach: Jason Booher, Holmes
Assistant coaches: Allen Feldhaus, Jr., Mercer County; Chris Oâ€™Hearn, Mason County
x â€“ unavailable for series
FastPitch Online Showcase, a national softball recruiting service, will host a combine for high school players on June 21 at Lyndon Recreation Park. For more information visit FastpitchOnlineShowcase.com or call 877.333.6613.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.