LOUISVILLE - Now in its 30th year of existence, the King of the Bluegrass tournament held on the campus of Fairdale High School has become a Louisville tradition. Tuesday night, some of the area's top players - as well as a few from out of town - as teams fought for the right to play in Wednesday's championship game. While big name prospects like Louisville bound Chane Behanan and Alabama signee Levi Randolph had their moments, it was Bradley signee Remy Abell who came up the biggest as he led his Louisville Eastern squad into the finals where they will face another Louisville team, Jeffersontown.
King of the Bluegrass standouts
Remy Abell, SF, Louisville Eastern- A physical presence on the wing, the future Bradley Brave erupted on the offensive end for 27 points in a blowout win over Bowling Green. He can make some jumpers from deep despite a bit of an unconventional stroke, but his bread and butter is using his athleticism and power to attack off the dribble and score between the rim and 15 feet. His motor, athleticism and general tenacity should allow the three-star prospect to make a pretty early splash in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Chane Behanan, PF, Bowling Green- Early on, it looked as if the Louisville signee was going to put up huge numbers. The fact is, he's not only his team's best rebounder and scorer, but likely their best ball handler and passer too. Eastern figured out quickly that if they forced Behanan's teammates to handle the ball that they'd have trouble getting it to the big man. Similar in many ways to a young Corliss Williamson, Behanan is a bullish four man who makes up for a lack of ideal height with strength, skill and the ability to face up and score when needed. He finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds despite only getting nine shots.
Levi Randolph, SG, Bob Jones- At times, the 6-foot-5 Alabama signee can look like a near surefire NBA prospect. He's got an effortless jumper with deep range, a terrific body, sees the floor and is a sure ball-handler. However, he is also a stoic guy out there and his team could have used some fire and vocal leadership from him during a tough overtime loss to Sacramento Sheldon. On the night, Randolph finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists even though he struggled a bit on deep jumpers. When he puts it all together on a consistent basis, he's got a high ceiling and perhaps the tools of a five-star prospect.
Other King of the Bluegrass notables
Luke Roh, PG/SG, Chaparral- The 6-foot-3, maybe 6-foot-4, combo guard's team fought valiantly against Trinity, but just didn't have enough weapons to emerge victorious against a more athletic Jeffersontown team. A good ball-handler and decision maker, he fixed early sloppiness against the press and made some plays. A good shooter, he's especially strong pulling up between 12 and 17 feet off of the dribble.
Zach Price, C, Jeffersontown- We've now seen the Louisville bound big man a couple of times in December and each time he's been saddled with foul trouble. As far as we can tell, most of the calls have been minor touch fouls that aren't likely to get called in the college game where he'll be bumping and grinding with more guys his size. Staying on the floor and out of foul trouble will still be a concern, but hopefully his length, back to the basket game and soft hands will eventually enable him to be a very productive college center.
Darius Nelson, F, Sheldon- The good thing about scorers is that even when shots aren't falling, you know that they'll keep letting them fly and eventually get things headed in a positive direction. That was the case for the UTEP signee who scored 20 of his game high 24 points during the second half and overtime of Sheldon's overtime win over Bob Jones. He's a wide-body who can clear space in the lane or fire away from deep and the 6-foot-5 senior also does his job on the glass as evidenced by the 12 rebounds he grabbed.
Kyiron Thomas, SG, Sheldon- A hard-nosed junior wing, the 6-foot-3 Thomas is a long armed athlete who does a lot of dirty work for Sheldon. He can play some tough on the ball defense, drives the basketball to the hoop and while he isn't a classic jump shooter, he isn't afraid to take a big shot and his three in overtime played a huge role in Sheldon's win.
Final notes from the King of the Bluegrass
Lefty wing Jeffery Moss of Bob Jones is one to keep an eye on down the road for mid-major level programs. The 6-foot-4 junior is a fine athlete with length, solid ball handling skills and the ability to get to the rim. … It wasn't a very big night on the scoreboard for Butler signee Kameron Woods of Louisville Eastern, but the slim 6-foot-8 forward drips with potential. He's a fluid athlete who runs the floor, can get on the glass and has the skills to play as an inside/out combo forward down the road. He just needs to add strength, desperately. … Jeffersontown senior wing Tony Kimbro had a solid night scoring 14 points. The 6-foot-4 lefty wing is a pretty athletic slasher who is at his best making plays going towards the rim. He looks like he'd be a fine pickup at the mid-major level. … A teammate of Kimbro's at J-Town, junior guard Jordan Hagan came off the bench to provide a huge lift by scoring 20 points. The 5-foot-11 reserve shooting guard nailed five of eight three point shots and provided a needed shot of energy off of the bench. …
When we stepped into the auxiliary gym to check in on Pearl (Miss.) High wing Twymond Howard, we found that the 2012 four-star wing's team was taking a serious beatdown at the hands of Pleasure Ridge Park. The 6-foot-5 wing was able to finish with 19 points and did make some deep jumpers, but he also suffered from some poor shot selection. … A pleasant surprise in Pleasure Ridge Park's 105-60 beating of Pearl was the chance to get a first look at PRP freshman Antonio McDaniels and Lamontray Harris. McDaniels is a quick 5-foot-9 point guard who can get into the lane and make plays. Harris, on the other hand, is a very intriguing 6-foot-5 wing with length, a long stride and a basketball frame. It was just a brief look and they are very young, but we'll be interested to see them down the road. … Yet another player at Sacramento Sheldon with division one potential is sophomore wing Dakari Allen. The skinny 6-foot-4 lefty is a little wild at times, but he's aggressive in attacking the rim, causes a lot of deflections and really seems to have a nose for picking up loose balls. He has the tools to develop into a pretty high level defender and put together a nice effort in finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. …
Louisville Trinity is nationally known as a football power, but it turns out they can hoop a bit as well. Primarily built on juniors and sophomores, it's tough to single out just one guy on the Shamrocks. Junior point guard Tony Saxton is a heady kid who can knock down shots and run his team. Junior combo forward Nathan Dieudonne is a lean athlete who can slash along the baseline or use his quickness to his advantage in the lane and sophomore James Quick is a big-time football prospect and track athlete who uses his athletic gifts to wreak havoc on the perimeter. … Finally, we'd like to thank tournament director Lloyd Gardner and his staff for their hospitality and help. The King of the Bluegrass is one of the most smoothly run events we've attended and the spread in the hospitality room was as impressive an array of treats as we've ever encountered. …