The 2011 race for Mr. Basketball should be an exciting on, as.the state of Kentucky features three of the nation's top prospects, Bowling Green's Chane Behanan, Jeffersontown's Zach Price and Louisville Western's Ryan Taylor. Behanan is the front-runner. The 6-foot-6 power forward's stock skyrocketed this spring and summer after several strong showing at national AAU events. Behanan was dominate back in June at the NBAPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville (VA), taking home MVP honers.
Behenan started the spring ranked as the No. 93 player in the nation according to Rivals.com. However, after his dominate play Rivals moved him up to No. 24 in nation and a five star prospect. He had scholarship offers from Alabama, Cincinnati, Indiana, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, West Virginia and Western Kentucky, before committing the University of Louisville back in September. Behanan, who averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game last season, has his eyes set on winning the 2011Mr. Basketball award and being invited to play in the prestigious McDonalds All American game.
"My goals this year are to help my team win and win Mr. Basketball," Behanan said. "Being moved up in the ranking is just extra motivation to keep working hard. Anything is possible I'm trying to get all the way up to the top 10. I'm trying to make the McDonald's All American game."
Price also saw his stock rise after an outstanding summer. The 6-foot-8 University of Louisville commit, entered the summer ranked No. 113 in Rivals ranking but moved up to No. 72 after strong performances. Jeffersontown coach Jeff Morrow hasn't had a chance to see the lefty play yet but he is excited to have him in a Charger uniform this winter.
"ALthough I havent seen Price play yet, someone with his length and ability gives us a true five man and a weapon we did not have before," Morrow said. " Good players make others around them better and I fully expect Zack will do that for us. Likewise with the talent we have at our other positions, collectively we will make him a better player. If the University of Louisville offered him early in his high school career along with several other schools, I think that speaks to impact he could potentially have for our team."
Taylor averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season at Indianapolis' Lawrence North. He announced in August that he would be leaving the school to play for his Uncle, Paul Handley, at Western.
"Ryan is an outstanding player," Handley said. "He's a good offensive player but I think he plays better on defense. Without a doubt, he's going to make a big impact, not only in the 6th Region, but in the state of Kentucky."
Price will have a huge impact on Jeffersontown's success but he isn't the only player who decided to transfer to Jeffersontown. Back in May coach Morrow received the news that Tony Kimbro Jr. was going to transfer back to the Derby city and be a Charger. Kimbro played his freshman season at duPont Manual before transferring to Arden (N.C.) Christ School. He played there his sophomore and junior seasons, averaging 12 points per game last year. He is a solid Division I prospect, with offers from Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. He could sneak up and win the award with a strong showing this winter.
"Tony played with us this summer and we had a fantastic summer," Morrow said. "He is a very unselfish player who fit in great with our team. Our strengths this summer were depth, team chemistry and unselfishness. Tony is a solid Division I recruit. With him on one wing and Desmond Dorsey on the other we have great ability from those spots."
Kimbro is excited about being back home.
" I just want to have fun my senior year," Kimbro said. "I want to play with some guys that I grew up with. I just felt like it was the best thing for me."
Louisville's 7th Region is always one of the top regions in the state for talent. Along with Jeffersontown, Louisville Eastern has one of the most talented teams in the state, including Remy Abell. Abell is another player from Louisville who could take home Mr. Basketball honers. The 6-foot-3 combo guard averaged nearly 14 points per game last season. He currently holds scholarship offers from Akron, Belmont, Bradley, IUPUI, Morehead State, Ohio, Penn State, Seton Hall and Wright State.
"Playing this summer has helped out a lot," Abell said. "I'm getting a lot of exposure out here playing in different tournaments. We are just going to keep traveling and I'm going to continue to work hard."
Warren Central's George Fant is another top candidate. Fant, a 6-foot-7, 235 pound bruiser, averaged 15.7 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, as he led Warren Central to a 4th Region championship and a spot in the KHSAA Sweet 16. He recently decided to stay home for college and play for Western Kentucky University. Winning Mr. Basketball would be nice but Fant is focused on leading his team back to Rupp Arena.
"We did pretty good last year," Fant said. "I'm very proud of my team. We had an outstanding leader in Troy Halcomb. Individually, I did pretty good. I could have done a lot better in the state tournament but I think we will be there again next year. It's my senior season, so I want to win a state championship."
Also in the mix are forwards Vinny Zollo from Clark County and Elliot County's Timmy Knipp. At 6-foot-8, Zollo is a load down low. He is one of the best low post scorers in the state but he has also developed an outside jump shot, which makes him even more of a scoring threat. Zollo has scholarship offers from Dayton, Oklahoma State, South Florida and Wright State.
Knipp led the state in scoring last season, pouring in over 30 points per game. The 6-foot-7 Knipp will play for Eastern Kentucky University in college.
The dark horse for the award could be Christian County's Anthony Hickey. The 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 15.3 and five rebounds per game last season. He he has led the Colonels to the KHSAA Sweet 16 the last two seasons. He had a strong showing over the summer, playing for the Nashville Celtics. Hickey has scholarship offers from Liscomb, Murry State, Oklahoma State and Western Kentucky.
"We have to win it," Hickey said. "We keep making it to state but we keep losing, so we have got to go there and win one. I'm going to put this team on my back and we are going to try and win that thing this year."