High School Basketball

UHA brings hot streak and hotter recruit to Sweet Sixteen after long drought

KyKyTandy of University Heights has the highest scoring average of any player in this season’s Sweet Sixteen.
KyKyTandy of University Heights has the highest scoring average of any player in this season’s Sweet Sixteen. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament tips Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Below is the team profile for the University Heights Academy Blazers, who will meet Campbell County in the first round at noon Thursday.

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS ACADEMY

Region: 2nd

Record: 23-7

Enrollment: 115 (51 boys)

Coach’s résumé

Grant Shouse is in his sixth season as head coach at University Heights, and he has an 85-85 record in his tenure.

Probable starters

2) Malik Lovan, 6-3, Sr., 5.9 ppg

4) Taquan Hollowell, 6-3, Jr., 11.6 ppg

11) Drew McGowan, 6-1, Jr., 11.3 ppg

15) KyKy Tandy, 6-1, Jr., 30.5 ppg

33) KJ Crump, 5-8, Fr., 8.7 ppg

How they got here

The Blazers roll into Rupp Arena with a nine-game winning streak — and eight of those victories have come away from home — after avenging two regular-season losses to Christian County with wins over that team in the district and region finals. UHA also bounced defending region champ Hopkinsville from the postseason in the district semifinals. The Blazers average 75.5 points per game — sixth in the state and second among Sweet Sixteen teams, behind only Scott County. They’re also shooting 39.5 percent as a team from three-point range, among the most accurate outside shooting teams in Kentucky. “We like to obviously play very fast, get up and down the floor and try to get in transition as much as possible,” Shouse said. “As long as we’re willing passers and playing together, our offense can be very explosive.”

Whatever happened to…?

Scotty Hopson was the star player for UHA the last time the Blazers played in the state tournament. He was a McDonald’s All-American and the No. 5 overall recruit nationally before playing for Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. Hopson was undrafted in 2011, and — other than two games with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 — has played the past several seasons overseas. Last month, he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks and made his return to an NBA court on March 4. Shouse said Hopson, who is first cousins with UHA star KyKy Tandy, was in town last summer to do a camp for local kids.

Player to watch

Everyone who follows high school basketball in Kentucky knows KyKy Tandy, the offensively electric junior guard who has already received scholarship offers from Florida, Tennessee, Cincinnati and several others. UK Coach John Calipari made the trip to Henderson to see Tandy play in the region finals last week, and the Cats will be keeping tabs on him this summer. Tandy can score from all three levels — no one who made it to the state tournament has averaged more points this season — and he’s hitting threes at a rate of 47.6 percent.

Sweet history

This is the Blazers’ seventh appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and its first state tournament trip in 10 years. UHA won it all in 1992, defeating Lexington Catholic 59-57 in the state title game in Freedom Hall.

Chris Ware | Herald-Leader staff
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