Even while away in Italy, Kentucky was able to land one of its top targets for the future.
Cassidy Jo Rowe, a freshman at Shelby Valley, announced on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that she’s planning to sign with the Cats and Coach Matthew Mitchell.
Rowe’s family contacted the UK coaches while they were on their Italy tour to give them the news.
“I’m very blessed to announce that I have committed to the University of Kentucky to play basketball,” Cassidy tweeted with a photo of herself holding a basketball and a sturdy brace on her right knee from an injury during play this summer.
Rowe, a 5-foot-5 point guard who is just starting high school, reportedly had offers from Murray, Northern Kentucky, Morehead State and Denver.
The guard, who hit 38 percent from three-point range, averaged 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds last season for Shelby Valley.
Shelby Valley Coach Lonnie Rowe, who also is Cassidy’s father, was a little taken aback when the soon-to-be freshman told him recently that she was thinking about ending the recruiting process early and committing to the Cats.
“She’s a very mature young lady and understands a lot about the recruiting process,” Lonnie Rowe said. “She just wanted to make a decision and go with it so she could get on with playing basketball.”
The father and daughter sat in the gym for an hour talking about the pros and cons of making the decision now.
“It’s where I want to go,” she told him plainly.
Cassidy’s connection with Kentucky’s coaches as well as her desire to play at a high level and stay close to home made the decision an easy one for his daughter, Rowe said.
Lots of coaches have been impressed with her ability to score, but it’s a lot of intangible things that make Cassidy special, her father and coach said.
“What she brings to the table is mental toughness,” he said. “She loves making her teammates better. She’s a phenomenal passer and she’s just one of those kids. …
“She’s a winner. Whatever it takes. If it means taking the charge late in the game, she’s taking that charge. If it means defending their best player, she’ll defend their best player. She’s going to do whatever it takes to win.”
That “mental toughness” he referenced already has come in handy for Cassidy as she’s worked to bounce back from a torn ACL. She had surgery less than a month ago.
“It’s going great,” he said of her rehab. “She’s just a workaholic. She started physical therapy the next day and is already on her third week of recovery. … She has worked her butt off.”
Rowe helped lead Shelby Valley to its first trip to the All “A” Classic titles, a first for any girls’ program out of the 15th Region.
She impressed a Lexington coach, whom the Wildcats ousted from the tournament, with her play at the small-school state tournament.
“She’s got great court vision and she’s looking ahead to make sure the defense turns their head so she can make that second or third pass, or at least create that for her team,” Lexington Christian Coach Michael Menifee, told the Herald-Leader. “She’s a great point guard. … She’s probably gonna tear this state up for the next three or four years.”