Eight boys who play high school basketball in Kentucky — five from Lexington — have been suspended for the first game of the regular season because of their participation in an organized basketball contest at an unallowed time.
Athletic directors from Frederick Douglass, Lafayette, Montgomery County, Scott County and South Laurel each self-reported violations under the KHSAA’s Bylaw 9, which restricts basketball and football players from participating in organized contests of those sports outside of school from the first day of school through the school’s last scheduled contest (including postseason) in those sports.
The eight players, listed below, participated in an organized event during the unveiling of a refurbished basketball court at the Charles Young Center on Sept. 10. Julius Randle, the Los Angeles Lakers star who played for the University of Kentucky, was present and filming the pilot episode of a documentary series, “Street Ball Stories.”
Robert “Nimbo” Hammons, a former star at Bryan Station who coaches the Charlotte Court AAU team, was asked to have his team participate in the event and be filmed for the series. The eight suspended players all play for Hammons, who said he informed each of the school’s athletic directors after he realized there could be an issue.
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“Even though it was a documentary, it was kind of on a script, they said because we had a scoreboard there and referees there, even though nobody was paid or anything like that, they said it was considered a scrimmage,” Hammons said. “ ... It wasn’t like we were trying to get ahead on something. It wasn’t like we were trying to scrimmage and see if we could do something. It’s something that was a community event.”
KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said that the organization’s membership has declined on several occassions to make “substantial changes” to Bylaw 9, which exists “to protect students who choose to participate on their schools’ athletic teams from exploitation by those who seek to capitalize on their skill and/or reputation,” it reads.
“The rule has long served to help student-athletes pulled in multiple directions by our two most popular sports in terms of participation, football and boys’ basketball, as well as girls’ basketball and fall sports offerings,” Tackett said in a news release. “In recent years, the staff has initiated changes that have been approved by the membership to ensure that the rule didn’t inappropriately inhibit students from participating in single-day activities that may assist in the student having opportunities to play beyond high school.”
The affected players are, in alphabetical school order:
Frederick Douglass: Skylar Hart, Jacob Kenney, Nate Mack, Rasaan Thompson
Lafayette: Evan Dreux
Montgomery County: Myron “Duece” Ralls
Scott County: Jaylen Barber
South Laurel: JJ Ramey