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Penny named to Kentucky All-Stars

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School’s all-time leading scorer will be first Bearcat to suit up since ‘95

By John Herndon

C.J. Penny’s high school basketball career is not quite over.

The Anderson County High School senior learned last Wednesday that he had been selected to the Kentucky All-Star basketball team that will play Indiana in the annual two-game summer series. Penny was selected by Kentucky head coach Tony Hopper of Apollo High School and a committee of 18 coaches that attended the tryouts, held April 17-18 at Campbellsville University.

“I think it is a great thing for C.J. personally and also for our team and for our school,” Anderson head coach Glen Drury said. “We don’t want to take it for granted that we have a player that is representing the whole state of Kentucky.”

Penny was in Nashville for an AAU tournament over the weekend and was not available for comment. He was making a college visit on Monday.

Penny and Drury, who was on the selection committee, learned that Penny had been selected last Wednesday. Only Madisonville’s Jon Hood, a University of Kentucky signee and the state’s Mr. Basketball, was guaranteed a spot on the roster. Penny and 10 others were selected from a group of about 40 players.

Besides Hood, the highest profile members of the team appear to be Lexington Catholic’s Vee Sanford, who will be playing for Georgetown University next fall, and the Faulkner twins, Ethan and Evan, of Elliott County.

Among the big names to not make the team were Elliott County’s Jonathan Ferguson, who elected to by-pass the tryouts, Eastern’s Chris Dowe and Holmes’ Jamel Riley.

Drury admitted there were some concerns about Penny’s chances as all-star teams tend to be guard-oriented and do not showcase his talents.

“The only thing I was concerned about was that he would not get the ball enough,” Drury said. “But C.J. played extremely well. He rebounded well and he was multi-faceted. He passed well and had some deflections. He caused some havoc defensively. He just has the knack for being around the ball. You can’t teach that.”

Penny, who is still trying to decide between Division I North Carolina A&T and NAIA power Georgetown College, could be a major factor for the Kentucky team, Drury said. “If he plays as well as he did (at the tryouts), he has a chance to play a lot of minutes, if not start.”

Penny will be the first Anderson player to suit up for Kentucky since Will Carlton in 1995. Other Bearcats who have played in the series include Mr. Basketball Jimmy Dan Conner in 1971 and Orbrey Gritton in 1985.

Paul Champion of Lawrenceburg High School played for the Kentucky team in the 1940’s.

Jimmy Russell was chosen to play in 1953, but an illness kept him out of the single game being played at the time while Jonathan Beasley was selected in 1997 but later decided not to participate.

Drury said that Penny will bring many talents to the Kentucky team. Penny averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds a game in his senior year and became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,101 career points. Penny averaged better than three assists per game and Drury often called him the “best passer I have ever coached.”

The series, one of the nation’s longest-running, will be played on Saturday, June 13 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and on Sunday, June 14 at at Louisville’s Bellarmine University.

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