Nathan Dieudonne of Trinity and Tamron Manning of Scott County, who are trying to lead their teams to the Sweet Sixteen championship this week, got some personal recognition on Friday.
They were among five finalists for Mr. Basketball announced at halftime of the Rowan County-Southwestern game in Rupp Arena. Matt Day of Buckhorn, MeKale McKay of Moore and Adam Wing of Rowan County are also in the select group.
A vote by the state's coaches determined the five finalists. In the coming weeks, some sports media, along with former Mr. Basketball honorees, will vote for the winner. Mr. and Miss Basketball will be announced at an awards dinner in Louisville on April 28 in a Heisman Trophy-type ceremony.
Day didn't know he was a finalist until his name was announced after region player of the year awards were presented by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches on Friday afternoon.
"I had no idea I was in the running," Day said. "It means so much to me and everything I've done in my career."
Day is undecided about where he'll play in college.
McKay, who signed to play football at Arkansas and plans to walk on to play basketball, too, was also surprised to be a Mr. Basketball finalist. "It's exciting because I really didn't expect it."
Tigers return to Rupp
This is the 25th anniversary of Clay County's 1987 state championship team. Coach Bobby Keith's Tigers beat Ballard 76-73 in overtime in the finals.
Keith and most of his '87 players, including star Richie Farmer, returned to Rupp Arena and were recognized at halftime of Friday night's Knott Central-Oldham County game.
Russell Chadwell, a high-leaping standout, was also in the group. Asked if he could still jump out of the gym, the gray-haired Chadwell joked that he could probably still touch the rim "but I'd probably need a knee replacement afterward."
Rowan County's Adam Wing never found his shooting touch this week, not like last year when he made 12 of 13 three-pointers in the semifinals and finals.
In two games in Rupp Arena this week, the 6-foot-4 senior was 5-for-22 overall. He missed his first 11 three-point attempts before hitting one late in Friday's loss to Southwestern.
"I don't know what it was," Wing said. "My shot felt fine. I wasn't thinking too much about it. I just wanted to knock 'em, down.
"Everybody kept telling me to keep shooting, that I'd get in a rhythm in the second half. But I never did."
Wing, who has signed to play college ball at Evansville, said "it would've been nice to make another run and play in the final four again. But give Southwestern credit. They played a great game."
This time last year, Kerry Stovall was on the sidelines coaching Christian County to the state championship.
Stovall was back in Rupp Arena on Thursday, sitting in the front row, not as a coach but as a spectator.
"It's weird," he said, "and not nearly as much fun."
Stovall got out of coaching after last year's title run and is now teaching at Muhlenberg County. He said he didn't see much high school basketball this season. Instead, he spent his free time watching his daughter Shelby and son Clayton play youth sports.
"And my wife (Natalie) saw me more this year than she did the last 25," Stovall said with a laugh.
It was only in the last month — tournament time —that he started to miss coaching. "The last three weeks have been tough," he said. "This is the most fun time of the year, when your backs are against the wall and it's win or go home. I love that part of basketball, the excitement of the district, region and state tournaments."
The KABC East-West all-star game will be played at Transylvania Saturday at 5 p.m.