High School Basketball

Former Kentucky Sweet Sixteen stars headed to major college basketball programs

Former Kentucky basketball stars James “Beetle” Bolden (left) and Sean McNeil (right) are headed to new Division I schools.
Former Kentucky basketball stars James “Beetle” Bolden (left) and Sean McNeil (right) are headed to new Division I schools.

Two former Kentucky basketball stars who led their schools to the Sweet Sixteen are on the move at the next level.

James “Beetle” Bolden, formerly of Holmes, and Sean McNeil, formerly of Cooper, both announced transfers Sunday via Twitter.

Bolden will enroll at Alabama as a graduate transfer. The 6-foot-2 guard left West Virginia University in early March, becoming the Mountaineers’ third in-season departure during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 12.2 points in 18 games last season and in three seasons at WVU averaged 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 82 career games, including 15 starts.

WVU Bolden
Former West Virginia guard James “Beetle” Bolden is headed to Alabama as a graduate transfer. Ray Thompson Associated Press

WVU lost one Kentuckian but gained another: McNeil will join the Mountaineers following a standout season at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, for whom the 6-4 guard averaged 29.7 points and shot 43.1 percent from the 3-point line in 31 games. He’ll have three years of eligibility in Morgantown.

Trinity student Luke Lyle hit a half-court shot during a contest at the 2019 Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen state basketball tournament on March 9, 2019. He and three other students won a $1,500 scholarship.

McNeil originally committed to Bellarmine University out of high school but left the school following one week on campus. He spent a year away from organized basketball but wanted to give it another go, and enrolled at Sinclair for the 2018-19 school year.

Bolden led Holmes to the 2013 Sweet Sixteen — in which the Bulldogs fell to eventual champion Madison Central, led by Dominique Hawkins — and to three consecutive appearances in the 9th Region championship. He as a senior averaged 19.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

McNeil averaged 17 points and 6.3 rebounds for Cooper as a senior, leading the Jaguars to their first Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2017. Bowling Green ultimately defeated Cooper in the championship round.