Mark Story previews the state, looking at compelling stories, top players

November 6, 2013 

Pre-season projection of what a "2013-14 All-State team" of players from Kentucky college teams would look like:

MEN

F James Young, Kentucky. This spot was held by Louisville's Chane Behanan before his indefinite suspension. The inclusion of true freshman Young is based on word of mouth over how he has looked in UK pre-season practices.

F Julius Randle, Kentucky. After all the off-season buzz — alpha-beast, next Shawn Kemp etc. — the McDonald's All-American from Dallas has hype as big as Texas to live up to. All indications are, he has the game to do it.

C Montrezl Harrell, Louisville. The sophomore showed flashes of immense promise (20 points, seven rebounds in 24 minutes vs. Syracuse in 2013 Big East finals) last season. Should have chance to replace the production the departed Gorgui Dieng provided.

G Russ Smith, Louisville. "Russdiculous" was mostly sublime (18.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 assists, 2.1 steals) last season. Can he top that without Peyton Siva setting the table?

G Andrew Harrison, Kentucky. John Calipari likes big point guards with an aggressive "edge." The lavishly hyped 6-foot-6, 215-pound freshman from Richmond, Texas, should fit the bill in both areas.

Coach of the Year: Jeff Neubauer, Eastern Kentucky. With four starters back from a 25-win team, the EKU head man has a viable chance to lead the Colonels to their first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.

Player of the Year: Julius Randle, Kentucky. Don't rule out that the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder plays his way past Andrew W iggins to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

WOMEN

F Antonita Slaughter, Louisville. The senior averaged 14.2 points over Louisville's final five NCAA Tournament games during last season's improbable Cardinals run to the national finals.

F Chastity Gooch, Western Kentucky. The 6-foot junior from Franklin-Simpson (15.7 ppg. 11.3 rpg) produced 26 double-doubles last season, the second most in the country.

C DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky. Can the UK standout (12.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg last season) become the third different Cat (joining Victoria Dunlap and A'dia Mathies) to win SEC Player of the Year since 2010?

G Shoni Schimmel, Louisville. With the mercurial U of L point guard, you take the bad with the good. In upset NCAA tourney wins against No. 1 Baylor and Tennessee, Schimmel shot 15-for-30, 9-for-18 on three-pointers. In two Final Four games (win over California, loss to Connecticut) she was 7-for-28, 2-for-16 on treys.

G Jennifer O'Neill, Kentucky. The fiery point guard averaged 16 points in UK's two games in last season's NCAA Tournament Bridgeport Regional. Can she become more consistent?

Coach of the Year: Michelle Clark-Heard, Western Kentucky. A season after presiding over a 13-game improvement (from 9-21 to 22-11) in her first year as WKU coach, Clark-Heard has a golden chance to return the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

Player of the Year: Shoni Schimmel. The "female Pete Maravich" has one more year to light up Louisville with her flair-filled game.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service