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Hutton: Kentucky ‘democratic’ in selecting All-Star team

HuttMichael 2004  Post-Tribune sportswriter Michael Hutton

Hutton, Michael 2004 Post-Tribune sportswriter Michael Hutton

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EDITOR’S NOTE

This is the second of a two-part
series. Read Part 1 online at posttrib.suntimes.com.

Updated: June 7, 2013 6:31AM



Kentucky figured out a while ago that it certainly can’t make everyone happy when picking the 12 best players for the Kentucky All-Star team.

But the Bluegrass state made it nearly impossible for coaches to accuse any one person of influencing the selections.

On the Kentucky Coaches Basketball Association website, President David Henley writes in its latest newsletter that the “selection process for the Kentucky team has become as legitimate as it gets. I can honestly say I believe there are no ‘politics’ involved in selecting the team. A huge reason for that is former Christian County coach Kerry Stovall, who has taken the selection process and turned it into a true tryout.”

Henley, a history teacher, called the process “democratic” and “fair.” And he, along with Stovall, believes that the state still gets the best team possible.

Henley said the KCBA asked to take over the selection process from the Lions Foundation, which sponsors the team, because there were some concerns about some of the picks.

“There were some sideway glances a few years after some of the selections,” he said.

The process starts with the 16 separate regions that make up the KCBA. Every region selects a coach of the year and every region also selects a player of the year.

The KCBA then sponsors a top-40 tryout, which is made up of 16 players of the year along with the top 40 players by popular vote.

The players are then invited to a live “tryout,” which is unlike the Indiana top-60 “workout.” The disclaimer on the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association website notes that the workout is “NOT a tryout for the Indiana All-Star teams” but that it gives Indiana All-Star director and Indiana All-Star coaches the opportunity to observe the state’s best senior players against top flight competition.” In Kentucky, the 16 all-region coaches are invited to actually do the voting for the team.

After the first workout, coaches meet and discuss all 40 players.

The players are grouped into three categories: lock (which means they are on the team), bubble (they aren’t sure) and off the board (not going to make the team).

They do the exact same process in the afternoon session, where it is possible, according to Stovall, that players could move between categories (from bubble to off the board or vice versa). For a player to be a lock, the vote has to be unanimous.

After they have hashed out the various skills of the players, the coaches vote. The top 10 vote-getters are on the team. The head coach gets to make two wildcard picks. The coaches also don’t slot players. For example, they wouldn’t necessarily categorize Andrean’s Nick Davidson as a wing player and Munster’s Mike Schlotman a point guard. They look for the 10 best players, with the general idea that they have to cover every position. And if they happen to be overloaded at one spot, the head coach can make up for it with two all-star picks.

Henley admits there is one downside to the live tryout: A qualified player can have a bad day. However, that can be accounted for when discussing the players before the actual vote is taken.

One of the central purposes for going to a system like this, according to Henley, was to remove the perception that politics or favoritism played a part in the selection process.

Stovall said picking the team through a controlled vote hasn’t solved all the problems but certainly the number of complaints about the selection process has decreased over the years. Also, having a live tryout allows a bubble player to play his way onto the team — something that is almost impossible in Indiana’s system.

“No matter who picks the team, there is always going to be disagreements about who should be on it,” Stovall said. “But we’ve at least turned the responsibility over to the guys who make a living doing this. They are the most passionate about it. When you have the coaches making the decision, it’s hard to talk about agendas or politics.”

Stovall emphasized that he’s not at all trying to compare Kentucky, with Indiana, which relies ultimately on one person make the final judgment. He said the whole weekend — the girls selections take place one day and the boys the next — has turned into a great experience for the players.

“It’s one of the most unique weekends I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “We’ve progressed a long way from where we started. The kids love it — they walk around with their chests puffed out.”



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