Posted On: 03/4/19 12:43 PM
This season was a tumultuous one for the 2019 Mr. Basketball race. Dontaie Allen was the presumed winner before tearing his ACL. David Johnson missed a month with a knee injury and Michael Moreno was out almost 8 weeks with a broken foot suffered at the Beach Ball Classic. After all that and the votes having been in for the last month or so, let’s take a look at the likely rankings as they stand before tomorrow’s award presentation.
The Favorite: KyKy Tandy (University Heights Academy)
How He Wins: With so many injuries and Tandy’s impressive numbers and winning team record, he is the favorite because he’s signed to a high major school (Xavier) and has gotten his team to Rupp once and has had a stellar high school career with almost 3,400 points. Not to mention that several media members have come out and said they voted for him.
How He Loses: Kentucky’s Mr Basketball is always political. Tandy’s dad made a lot of people mad last year with some remarks about the University of Kentucky’s recruitment of his son. KyKy also has a reputation for not playing hard on defense. If voters want the most complete player to win, he’s not it.
The Second Favorite: Isaiah Cozart (Madison Central)
How He Wins: The state’s all time leading shot blocker, Cozart had a huge season on both ends of the floor. Averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds per game while leading the state in blocks (again) and shooting 61% from the floor, Isaiah’s stats are comparable to Tandy’s as far as impact on the game. And he’s committed to in-state Western Kentucky which is a big deal to some voters. Lastly, his high school coach has a lot of pull with people and could have called in every favor he’s owed to try and get Isaiah the award.
How He Loses: Before all the injuries, no one was mentioning him as a real contender. All 3 of the 11th region nominees (Cozart, Kyle Rode and Michael Moreno) could split the vote and neutralize each other. On top of that, Madison Central finished only 17-14 even though they did play a beast of a schedule.
Dark Horse: Kyle Rode (Lexington Christian Academy)
How He Wins: He’s probably the most valuable player to any team in the state and had a huge statistical season. Kyle averaged 23.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game with 50/36/82 shooting splits and playing (and guarding) and 5 positions on the floor. Take him off the team and LCA’s record likely flips from 22-11 to 11-22.
How He Loses: Name recognition. Kyle has been around for a while but the generic voter who only knows the “big names” may not know Rode. He’s a quiet kid who committed to play college at Liberty. Not many outside of Lexington may think of him as a potential Mr. Basketball. And the aforementioned 11th region vote split could be a factor.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance: Michael Moreno (Scott County), David Johnson (Trinity), Dontaie Allen (Pendleton County)
How Moreno Wins: Michael is the best player on the best team in the state and the presumed state championship team. Not to mention he’s got over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in his career. If you stack his career resume against the rest, he has a formidable case to be made.
How Johnson Wins: He’s an athletic freak who is probably going to start at Louisville as a true freshman next year. On top of that, he’s a great and humble kid. I don’t think he wins because no one has really campaigned for him but he is more than worthy. If the rest of the candidates split the votes enough, Johnson could sneak in there.
How Allen Wins: Voters view the award as a career award and not just a Senior year award. With over 1,200 rebounds and well over 3,000 points, Allen has the best career numbers and was averaging 43 points and 16 rebounds per game when he was hurt. Not to mention the UK factor. He could still get many votes thanks to his commitment to the state’s flagship university.
How All 3 Lose: The time lost to injury is too much and voters consider the award to be the best player this season and not as a career award.
All of the Mr. Basketball Finalists:
1st Region: Conner Guthrie, Mayfield
2nd Region: KyKy Tandy, University Heights Academy
3rd Region: Kobe Poole, Breckinridge County
4th Region: Jackson Harlan, Clinton County
5th Region: Trevon Smith, Taylor County
6th Region: Blake Butler, Jeffersontown
7th Region: David Johnson, Trinity
8th Region: Dieonte Miles, Walton-Verona
9th Region: Tahj Harding, Newport
10th Region: Dontaie Allen, Pendleton County
11th Region: Isaiah Cozart, Madison Central; Michael Moreno, Scott County; Kyle Rode, Lexington Christian Academy
12th Region: Carter Baughman, Mercer County
13th Region: JJ Ramey, South Laurel
14th Region: Noah Back, Perry County Central
15th Region: Brady Whitaker, Magoffin County
16th Region: Korbin Spencer, Elliott County