High School Basketball

WKU gets commitment from Kentucky’s soon-to-be top shot blocker

Madison Central’s Isaiah Cozart (50) tries to save the ball back inbounds against Bryan Station, during the first round of the 11th Region tournament, Wednesday night, February 28, 2018, at EKU’s McBrayer Arena in Richmond.
Madison Central’s Isaiah Cozart (50) tries to save the ball back inbounds against Bryan Station, during the first round of the 11th Region tournament, Wednesday night, February 28, 2018, at EKU’s McBrayer Arena in Richmond.

Isaiah Cozart, a 6-foot-7 shot-blocking machine at Madison Central, will play college basketball just a couple hours west of Richmond.

Cozart committed to Western Kentucky University following a visit to the Hilltoppers’ campus on Saturday. He committed to the Hilltoppers soon after the visit, Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus told the Herald-Leader, and announced his decision Sunday on Twitter.

It was his second visit to the school in less than two weeks; he was in attendance for WKU’s basketball pro day on Oct. 11 and returned this weekend to spend more time with the players.

Western was a late-comer to Cozart’s recruitment. He’d settled on a final four of Belmont, Charlotte, William & Mary and Wofford but Hilltoppers Coach Rick Stansbury watched Cozart during one of Madison Central’s open gyms three weeks ago and invited him to campus. He received an offer during the pro day.

“Truthfully, I’m glad to get it over it,” Feldhaus said with a laugh. “The other (schools), they did a great job and they’ve been recruiting him all along, so I feel bad. ... He seemed to fall in love with Western. Coach Stansbury and them, they’ve got it going.”

WKU now has two commitments for its 2019 class, both from Kentucky. Clinton County’s Jackson Harlan — a 6-5 guard who averaged 26.4 points as a junior last season — committed to the Hilltoppers in June. Four players on WKU’s 2018-19 roster are from Kentucky, including former Mr. Basketball winners Taveion Hollingsworth and Carson Williams, who will redshirt this season after transferring from Northern Kentucky University. Sophomore Jake Ohmer (Scott) and redshirt junior Jared Savage, a former star at Warren Central who sat out last season following his transfer from Austin Peay, also are with the Hilltoppers.

Cozart brings a total of 530 career blocked shots into his senior season. The state record for a varsity player is 541, set by Paintsville’s J.R. VanHoose in 1998. Cozart’s single-season totals for blocks — 216 as a sophomore and 200 as a junior — rank second and third, respectively, in state history (Sheldon Clark’s Trey James had 258 as a freshman last season to nab the record from Cozart).

Feldhaus believes Cozart could contribute defensively in college right now. He has continued to improve his scoring and range; he averaged 12.7 points as a junior but connected on seven of the 15 three-pointers he attempted.

“Offensively, he’s been a kid that it’s been a process,” Feldhaus said. “He’s continued to get better and better and I think he’ll continue to do so. I think he might need a year or two to play at that level at Western whereas the other schools that were recruiting him, I think he could have stepped right in and played right away with them. Now I hope I’m wrong ... but he understands that and he’s willing to work.”

The Indians, an 11th Region semifinalist last season, are again expected to contend for a region title. They open the year at home against Madison Southern on Nov. 27.

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