The Kentucky Mr. Basketball frontrunner chose the Hilltoppers over UAB, and was drawing interest from Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia in recent weeks.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – When Rick Stansbury took over as head coach at Western Kentucky earlier this year, he vowed to make the top players in Kentucky a priority in recruiting.
“There’s a lot of good players in this state,” Stansbury said during his introductory press conference. “There’s no reason why players in this state have to go anywhere else to find a place to get a good education and compete for championships.”
A few months later, it appears Stansbury is holding true to his promise.
Western Kentucky picked up a commitment from Kentucky Mr. Basketball frontrunner Taveion Hollingsworth on Wednesday. He is the third commit in the Hilltoppers’ 2017 recruiting class, and the first from the state of Kentucky.
2016 KHSAA Sweet 16 MVP.
Mr. Basketball front-runner.
WKU is keeping one of the state’s finest in Kentucky!
— WKU Basketball (@WKUBasketball) November 9, 2016
The Lexington (Ky.) Dunbar senior announced his decision at a ceremony at his school Wednesday afternoon, and signed his Letter of Intent shortly thereafter. He chose the Hilltoppers over an offer from University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Hollingsworth also attracted the attention of major programs such as Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia in recent weeks, but he said he ultimately chose the school that “wanted him the most” instead of waiting for offers from high-major programs.
As a junior, Hollingsworth led Dunbar to its first state title and was named Most Valuable Player of the Sweet 16. He averaged 21 points per game and shot 53.1 percent from the field.
247Sports ranks the three-star prospect as the No. 55 point guard.
“We’re excited to have Taveion join our basketball family,” Stansbury said in a news release. “It’s very obvious he’s a terrific player from a really good high school program where he’s been really well-coached. At the same time, he’s a terrific young man and a great student, and we’re happy to have him and his family become a part of our program.”
Hollingsworth’s commitment is important for Stansbury because it shows his dedication to recruiting the bluegrass state’s top prospects. Although not typically viewed as a hotbed for high school talent, Kentucky does produce a handful of solid prospects each year. However, those prospects are usually overlooked by traditional state powers Kentucky and Louisville, and end up at out-of-state programs.
Stansbury has made it clear he wants to change that trend. He wants to make WKU an alternative for Kentucky prospects who instead would take their talents elsewhere. Whether or not his strategy pays dividends remains to be seen, but it is clear that he has a clear vision with what he wants to accomplish on the recruiting trail.
Hollingsworth joins five-star center Mitchell Robinson and four-star wing Josh Anderson in WKU’s 2017 class, which is currently ranked in the Top 10 nationally. Hollingsworth is so far the only commit to sign a letter of intent, although Robinson and Anderson are solid verbals.