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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965

606-248-7859

Bob.Dixon@kyfb.com

Go Big Blue!

ED PEAK: Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Games in Danger

It just might be the time to pull the plug on the summer high school basketball series between Kentucky and Indiana All-Stars. The annual event, which began in 1940, has been played every year since, but it’s getting more and more difficult to hold the all-star games.

Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball Reed Sheppard from North Laurel High won’t be playing in the game. Sheppard signed with the University of Kentucky, which is practicing for an exhibition tour. He has already reported to the Wildcat program.


The only other time a Mr. Basketball didn’t play was Moore High’s Manual Forrest, who was limited to two all-star games by a rule enforced by the NCAA.


The games have fallen on hard times.


Kentucky All-Stars used to play in Louisville's Freedom Hall. Other venues at Rupp Arena, Frankfort Civic Center, Bellarmine, Kentucky Wesleyan and Transylvania were also held. Indiana used to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse before moving to Market Square Arena and Gainbridge Fieldhouse. In recent years, it moved to Southport High's gym. It’s scheduled back at Gainbridge this year.


“Reed not playing is sad to see what has become of the series,” said Lexington's WKYT sports director Brian Milam, who covered Shepherd’s career at North Laurel. “I’m for tradition and keeping alive heirlooms but the Kentucky-Indiana series needs to be dissolved.”


The Kentucky boys teams have been less than competitive in the last 20 years. The Bluegrass trails 100-44 in the series and has been swept every year since 2009.


Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport, who was an assistant coach for Kentucky All Stars while at Ballard High, disagrees. He would like to see the series continue.


“It’s very difficult, but everyone is trying,” said Davenport. “We have two players in the game, Kenyon Goodin (Collins High) and AJ Lux (Crown Point High, Indiana). When Lux plays this weekend, he won’t go back home. He will report to Bellarmine Sunday.


According to Milam, Mr. Basketball in 2015, Cameron Justice of Knott County Central, was told by then-Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings not to play.


“The series needs to die with dignity not what it has become,” said Milam.


Sports reporter Rick Bozich of Louisville's WDRB is from Gary, Indiana and has followed the series for close to 40 years. “The current system has lost its mojo,” said Bozich. “Maybe invite Ohio and Tennessee and make it a four-team tournament. Or switch the focus to juniors.”


Bozich has seen such all-stars as Darrell Griffith, Kyle Macy, Romeo Lankford, Jeff Lamp and Glenn Robinson. Other greats include Larry Bird, George McGinnis, Oscar Robertson and Rex Chapman.


“When I coached in the game, we had Winston Bennett (Male & UK). Indiana had Steve Alford (Indiana University). It was an amazing event,” said Davenport.


Another problem is a lot of players leave and go to prep schools. Future UK and NBA standout Rajon Rondo would have been on the Kentucky team but went to prep school.


This year's series (boys and girls) will be Friday at the Owensboro Sports Center and Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.


“We use to play one game one week and another the next,” said Davenport. “Now we do it in a week. Everyone is trying. It’s difficult. If we go earlier, we run into graduations.


“I hope they don’t (discontinue) the series. I know AJ wouldn't miss it. We’ve weathered some storms."


Ed Peak has covered U of L sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

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