COLUMN:Drury looking to revive local, regional interest in All-Star game

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Kentucky team to make local appearance next Tuesday

By John Herndon

The Kentucky-Indiana high school all-star basketball game has long been billed as something unique to states that claim hoops as part of the birthright.

But the game has lost its luster in recent years, especially marked by declining attendance on both sides of the Ohio River. In an era marked by glitzy dunk contests and all-star games that are little more than glorified street ball games, the Kentucky-Indiana series has long billed itself as real basketball teams playing for state pride.

The games are set for June 11 at Knights Hall on the campus of Bellarmine University in Louisville and June 12 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

An assistant coach for the Kentucky team this year and the head coach for the 2011 series, Anderson County's Glen Drury is wanting to do what he can to make the classic special again.

“One of my goals in this organization is that I want this team to be important to every kid in Kentucky again,” Drury says.

He's getting his start next Tuesday, June 8 when the current edition of the Kentucky boys' team will be in Anderson County for a get together at Tony's Barn. The event is free and open to the public.

“We have about 100 t-shirts that we are going to be giving out,” Drury said. “It is an opportunity for the people of the community to meet the team. You can have your picture taken with Mr. Basketball.”

That player, Shelby Valley's Elisha Justice, will be attending the University of Louisville. After a weekend mini-camp recently, Drury noted, “If I am coaching at Louisville, I can see why they took him. He is a coach's dream. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win and has excellent leadership skills.

Other top players include Louisville Trinity's Josh Sewell, who will be attending Miami of Ohio, and Ricardo Johnson of Covington Holmes, headed for Ohio University.  “I am very impressed with Johnson,” Drury said. “He will do what it takes.”

Anderson County fans might have already seen Franklin County's Vance Hall, who “had a great tryout,” according to Drury, and MeCreary Central's Aaron Watts, considered one of Kentucky's best athletes. Both played against the Bearcats the last two years.

The team will be scrimmaging the Kentucky Junior All-Stars at 6 p.m. on June 8 at Franklin County High School before coming to Anderson County. Drury says the team will have a sheriff's department escort at the county line and should arrive at Tony's Barn about 8:15.

Several local and state officials are expected to be at the event along with several of Anderson County's former All-Stars, including Orbrey Gritton from the 1985 team, Will Carlton from 1995 and C.J. Penny of last year's team. Confirmation from other previous Anderson All-Stars had not been confirmed as of last Friday.

Drury said that he invited Kentucky coach John Calipari and Louisville's Rick Pitino to attend but they are are prohibited from doing so by an NCAA regulation.

“I want this to be a special time for each of the kids,” Drury said. “We want them to realize they are representing the state of Kentucky.

“I have been fortunate to see the Indiana All-Stars. They have tremendous talent. Their Mr. Basketball, DeShaun Thomas (of Bishop Luers) is going to Ohio State.”

Two Indiana stars are from the Louisville area, Donnie Hale of New Albany and Kegan Clark of Jeffersonville. Twelve of the 14 Indiana stars are going to Division I schools.

Drury knows Kentucky has its work cut out for it.

“If we can get the team to buy into the idea that we are representing the state of Kentucky, we improve our chances tremendously.

“We have great tradition here in Kentucky, too. We want to promote that tradition and we want this to be an experience the players will never forget.”

He's counting on Anderson County to help make it so next Tuesday.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.