The loss of Mr. Basketball Camron Justice is just one of the obstacles James Haire has faced this week as the coach of the Kentucky All-Stars boys basketball team.
Haire, the head coach at Elizabethtown High School, said just five of the remaining 12 players on the team have attended practices Monday and Tuesday at the Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington.
“We have more who are supposed to becoming later this week, but it’s been a real challenge with these Division I signees,” Haire said. “They want them on campus this week, taking classes and going through workouts.”
The Kentucky All-Stars are set to face Indiana in the states’ annual series on Friday at Transylvania University in Lexington and on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Haire said Owensboro’s Justin Miller, Elizabethtown’s Zach Patterson, Wayne County’s Peyton Woods, Knott County Central’s Evan Hall and Manual’s Dwayne Sutton have attended practice this week.
Other members of the team are Holmes’ James Bolden, Owensboro’s Aric Holman, Hopkinsville’s Jaqualis Matlock, Ballard’s Jalen Perry, Lexington Christian’s Matt Rose, Henderson County’s David Simmons and Trinity’s Raymond Spalding. Haire said most of those were not released by their colleges to attend practice this week, while others have been unable to get transportation to Lexington.
“When you only have five guys at practice,” Haire said, “it’s almost like you’re punishing them. It’s hard putting any kind of offense in. What we’re going to have to end up doing will be simple. It’s hard when you can’t play with each other and get to know each other some. … We’ll just have to deal with it.”
Haire said Justice, Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball winner out of Knott County Central, is the only original member of the team that definitely won’t play this weekend.
Raymond Justice told The Courier-Journal his son already is enrolled at Vanderbilt and “they wouldn’t release him to play” for the All-Stars.
Justice figured to be a key member of the Kentucky squad after averaging 24.2 points per game last season and shooting 43 percent from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Kentucky girls coach Scott Sivills of Calloway County said 11 of his 12 players have attended practices, with Apollo’s J’Nayah Hall expected to join the squad later in the week.
“Knock on wood, everything has gone really well so far,” Sivills said.
Danville’s Cameron McPherson has replaced Henderson County’s DeAsia Outlaw on the roster. Sivills said Outlaw was unavailable because of an ankle injury.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.