"He's gonna make money playing this game, you wait and see."
Paul Laurence Dunbar Coach Scott Chalk said all season that his senior star, Taveion Hollingsworth, was without a doubt the best player in Kentucky’s senior class.
That confidence was validated Tuesday night as Hollingsworth was named Mr. Basketball during a banquet Tuesday night at the Lexington Center. Bullitt East standout Lindsey Duvall was named Miss Basketball also during the event.
Hollingsworth became the school’s first winner and the first player from Lexington to win Mr. Basketball since Henry Clay’s Steve Miller took home the honor in 1984. Like Miller, Hollingsworth will play college basketball at Western Kentucky University, with whom he signed in November.
“It hasn’t been like this, in many years, for a Lexington boy to get Mr. Basketball so it feels great,” Hollingsworth said.
The Bulldogs star led Dunbar to its first Sweet Sixteen title as a junior, averaging 21.5 points on 52.4 percent shooting during the state tournament to take home MVP honors a season ago. Hollingsworth this season became the all-time leading scorer in Lexington boys’ basketball history, breaking Mike Allen’s 28-year-old scoring record on Feb. 14 and ending his high school career with 2,495 points.
“It didn’t take a genius to recognize that talent,” Chalk said with a grin. “The best thing about it, and the reason I’m most proud probably, is how he handled this year. Because it could have been very easy to not live up to all the expectations and not beat those expectations cause they were high and there was a lot of scrutiny.
Hollingsworth, Dunbar’s only returning starter from its title run, averaged 28.3 points on 55.1 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds in 30 games. He scored a career-high 47 points in a win against Lee (Ala.) during the King of the Bluegrass Tournament and had 44 points (15 of 21 from the field, 13 of 16 from the free-throw line) in his high school finale, a 68-64 loss to Lexington Christian in the semifinals of the 43rd District Tournament.Dunbar was 54-15 over Hollingsworth’s final two seasons.
“For him to be able to come through like he did every single night under that kind of pressure, that says a lot more about what he’s like and what he is,” Chalk said.
Hollingsworth said he was nervous leading up to the award season, and especially so after Dunbar’s postseason ended earlier than he would have liked.
Dunbar has produced some notable basketball players over the years — Darnell Burton, whom Hollingsworth passed on the school’s scoring list in January, and Cameron Mills, who went on to play on UK’s 1996 and 1998 championship teams — but none were named Mr. Basketball until Tuesday night.
“I’m the first one there, so I guess I consider myself the best out of all of ’em,” Hollingsworth said with a laugh.
Every current public school in Lexington now has produced a Mr. Basketball recipient. Hollingsworth is the eighth winner out of the city, joining Vernon Hatton (Lafayette, 1954), Billy Ray Lickert (Lafayette, 1957), Jeff Mullins (Lafayette, 1960), Jack Givens (Bryan Station, 1974), Dom Fucci (Tates Creek, 1975), Dirk Minniefield (Lafayette, 1979) and Miller. Lexington Catholic, Lexington Christian and Sayre have not had a Mr. Basketball winner (LCA’s Sarah Beth Barnette won Miss Basketball in 2010).
Duvall, a senior who’s signed with the University of Louisville, became the second Miss Basketball winner to hail from Bullitt East. She joined Becky McKinley, who won in 1992 and went on to play for the University of Kentucky, as Chargers who have been crowned.
“You knew early on that she was a special player,” Bullitt East Coach Chris Stallings said. “All through her career, she just kept improving and maturing. We just knew that she was a special player.”
After knee surgery to remove a tumor from her left leg sidelined Duvall for much of the 2015-16 season, she returned with a bang as a senior. She averaged 23.6 points in 35 games this season while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 40.8 percent from three-point range. Duvall averaged a team-high 8.3 rebounds for the Chargers, who finished 27-8 after falling to Butler in the 6th Region championship game.
Duvall, the 42nd Miss Basketball recipient since the award began in 1976, became the ninth winner from a Louisville-area school. She joined Kim Pehlke (Doss, 1988), Lisa Harrison (Southern, 1989), Jenni Benningfield (Assumption, 2000), Crystal Kelly (Sacred Heart, 2004), Carly Ormerod (Sacred Heart, 2005), Tia Gibbs (Butler, 2008), A’dia Mathies (Iroquois, 2009).
“I was really surprised to win it,” Duvall said. “There’s a lot of great players. You never know, I mean, with all that talent there, you know?”
Duvall was on crutches during the event. During a recent checkup doctors discovered fragments of her tumor remaining in her knee and removed those last week. She should be cleared to run again in four weeks if all goes well.
The adversity she’s faced at the tailend of her career has been tough, but Duvall focused on the positives all the way through.
“I was playing with my best friends the whole time, so that was awesome,” she said.
Two Harlan players took home some hardware as well Tuesday night. Noah Busroe, a senior who stars in basketball, baseball, football and track and field for the Dragons, was honored as the fourth annual Wah Wah Jones Award winner. Busroe became the first from Harlan to win the award, which is named after the school’s most prolific graduate and recognizes excellence in multiple sports.
Jordan Brock, who was a Miss Basketball finalist, became the third Donna L.J. Murphy Award winner. It began in 2015 as a way to recognize exemplary female student-athletes.
MR. BASKETBALL WINNERS
2017 Taveion Hollingsworth, Paul Laurence Dunbar
2016 Carson Williams, Owen Co.
2015 Camron Justice, Knott Co. Central
2014 Quentin Snider, Ballard
2013 Dominique Hawkins, Madison Central
2012 Nathan Dieudonne, Trinity
2011 Anthony Hickey, Christian Co.
2010 Elisha Justice, Shelby Valley
2009 Jon Hood, Madisonville
2008 Darius Miller, Mason Co.
2007 Steffphon Pettigrew, Elizabethtown
2006 Walt Allen, South Laurel
2005 Domonic Tilford, Jeffersontown
2004 Chris Lofton, Mason Co.
2003 Ross Neltner, Highlands
2002 Brandon Stockton, Glasgow
2001 Josh Carrier, Bowling Green
2000 Scott Hundley, Scott Co.
1999 Rick Jones, Scott Co.
1998 J.R. VanHoose, Paintsville
1997 Brandon Davenport, Owensboro
1996 Daymeon Fishback, Greenwood
1995 Charles Thomas, Harlan
1994 Elton Scott, Marion Co.
1993 Jason Osborne, Male
1992 Tick Rogers, Hart Co.
1991 Jermaine Brown, Fairdale
1990 Dwayne Morton, Central
1989 Allan Houston, Ballard
1988 Richie Farmer, Clay Co.
1987 John Pelphrey, Paintsville
1986 Rex Chapman, Apollo
1985 Tony Kimbro, Seneca
1984 Steve Miller, Henry Clay
1983 Winston Bennett, Male
1982 Todd May, Virgie
1981 Phil Cox, Cawood
1980 Ervin Stepp, Phelps
1979 Dirk Minniefield, Lafayette
1978 Doug Schloemer, Holmes
1977 Jeff Lamp, Ballard
1976 Darrell Griffith, Male
1975 Dom Fucci, Tates Creek
1974 Jack Givens, Bryan Station
1973 Wesley Cox, Male
1972 Jerry Thruston, Owensboro
1971 Jimmy Dan Conner, Anderson Co.
1970 Robert Brooks, Madison
1969 Ron King, Central
1968 Terry Davis, Shelby Co.
1967 Jim McDaniels, Allen Co.
1966 Mike Casey, Shelby Co.
1965 Butch Beard, Breckinridge Co.
1964 Wes Unsel,d Seneca
1963 Mike Redd, Seneca
1962 Mike Silliman, St. Xavier
1961 Randy Embry, Owensboro
1960 Jeff Mullins, Lafayette
1959 Pat Doyle, North Marshall
1958 Harry Todd, Earlington
1958 Ralph Richardson, Russell Co.
1957 Billy Ray Lickert, Lafayette
1956 Kelly Coleman, Wayland
1955 Kenny Kuhn, Male
1954 Vernon Hatton, Lafayette
MISS BASKETBALL WINNERS
2017 Lindsey Duvall, Bullitt East
2016 Erin Boley, Elizabethtown
2015 Maci Morris, Bell Co.
2014 Ivy Brown,LaRue Co.
2013 Makayla Epps, Marion Co.
2012 Sydney Moss, Boone Co.
2011 Sara Hammond, Rockcastle Co.
2010 Sarah Beth Barnette, LCA
2009 A’dia MathiesI, roquois
2008 Tia Gibbs, Butler
2007 Rebecca Gray, Scott Co.
2006 Arnika Brown, Christian Co.
2005 Carly Ormerod, Sacred Heart
2004 Crystal Kelly, Sacred Heart
2003 Megen Gearhart, West Carter
2002 Erica Hallman, Holmes
2001 Katie Schwegmann, Brossart
2000 Jenni Benningfield, Assumption
1999 Jody Sizemore, Leslie Co.
1998 Beth Vice, Montgomery Co.
1997 Rachel Byars, Union Co.
1996 Jaime Walz, Highlands
1995 Ukari Figgs, Scott Co.
1994 Laurie Townsend, Apollo
1993 Brandi Ashby, Webster Co.
1992 Becky McKinley, Bullitt East
1991 Ida Bowen, Sheldon Clark
1990 Kim Mays, Knox Central
1989 Lisa Harrison, Southern
1988 Kim Pehlke, Doss
1987 Mary Taylor, Marshall Co.
1986 Kris Miller Owensboro Catholic
1985 Brigette Combs, Whitesburg
1984 Carol Parker, Marshall Co.
1983 Clemette Haskins, Warren Central
1982 Connie Goins, Western Hills
1981 Lillie Mason, Olmstead
1980 Lisa Collins, Laurel Co.
1979 Beth Wilkerson, Paris
1978 Irene Moore, Breathitt Co.
1977 Geri Grigsby, McDowell
1976 Donna Murphy, Newport