He calls it “swag.” Kyle Guy’s mother, though, could do without.
“It drives me batty,” Katy Fitzgerald said.
Guy, the 2016 IndyStar Mr. Basketball presented by the Indiana Pacers, is in his element on the basketball court. He’s having fun. When the Lawrence Central senior puts an index finger to his mouth to “shush” an opposing crowd or wink for a television camera, it’s just part of the show.
“I can’t stand it,” Fitzgerald said with a laugh. “I just want him to show what he has on the court. But that stuff kind of gets him into it. It’s probably helped him develop his mental toughness. I probably have to let it go because Duke fans are going to get on to him and he has to know how to handle it.”
The 6-3 Guy, who will play his college basketball at the University of Virginia, was announced as Lawrence Central’s first Mr. Basketball at the IndyStar Indiana Sports Awards banquet Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Guy was selected on 123 of the 361 ballots submitted by coaches and media. Southport’s Joey Brunk and Tech’s C.J. Walker — the other finalists — tied for second with 46 votes each. Seton Catholic’s Desmond Bane (18), Gary 21st Century’s Eugene German (15) and Cathedral’s Eron Gordon (nine) were next.
“It’s definitely a dream,” Guy said. “Coming into high school, I told my parents I wanted to win Mr. Basketball and be the top scorer in the history of Lawrence Central.”
Guy did it with a flair that made him one of the most recognizable players in the state for the past four years. He finished his career with 1,614 points, the school’s most since Lawrence North was added as a second high school in Lawrence Township in 1976.
Although he’d already established himself as one of the state’s top players, Guy’s senior season was by far his best. He averaged 23.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists and shot 43 percent from the 3-point line (63-for-146). But it wasn’t the individual numbers that defined Guy’s season as much as his maturity as a vocal leader on and off the court, an area in which second-year coach Al Gooden wanted to see improvement.
Lawrence Central finished 19-7 to post its highest win total since 1996. The Bears fell short of winning the program’s third sectional title since 1977, losing to North Central in treacherous Sectional 10. But on a team with limited size and two primary offensive weapons — Division II University of Tampa recruit Mekhi Biffle averaged 16.7 points a game — Lawrence Central’s season was anything but a disappointment.
“We definitely accomplished more than anybody else expected for us,” Guy said. “We were hurt that we didn’t come out with a sectional (championship). But individually and as a team, I have no regrets.”
Hard as it may be to believe, considering Guy’s skinny frame, his father once thought football might be his future. That may have been Ohio talking, though. As a seventh-grader, Joe Guy moved with his father to Lawrence Township from Cincinnati. He was a football and track standout at Lawrence Central, earning Central Suburban Athletic Conference honors as a senior wide receiver in the fall of 1994.
“Football was my thing,” Joe Guy said. “I thought (Kyle) was going to be a football player, too.”
With Joe as coach, Kyle displayed promise as a quarterback in the Lawrence youth leagues. Joe installed a passing offense. By the sixth grade, Kyle had a good handle on it.
“I thought, ‘This kid is going to turn out to be a good QB,’” Joe said. “He picked it up quick. I didn’t have to tell him the play more than once or twice and he had it. He’s obviously thin, but he was also aggressive. He’d drop a shoulder and run into contact. He didn’t fear it.”
But Kyle was done with football after his eighth-grade year at Belzer Middle School. In retrospect, considering where basketball has taken his son, Joe said, “It was the first great decision that Kyle made.” Not that Joe agreed with it at the time.
“The chances of getting a basketball scholarship are really slim,” Joe said of his point of view at the time. “I thought he should play both.”
By Kyle’s freshman year at Lawrence Central, he had a vision of where he could go with basketball, if not necessarily where he’d play in college. One of his first coaches, Lee Larkins, told Kyle’s stepfather, Tim Fitzgerald, that he was working with a future Mr. Basketball. Kyle was in sixth grade at the time.
“Lee is the one who taught Kyle how to shoot,” Joe Guy said.
J.R. Shelt installed Guy as a starter early in his freshman season at Lawrence Central. By that point, Butler, Indiana and Purdue were already highly interested.
“His skill level was already really high,” Shelt said. “He just needed that athleticism to catch up.”
Most considered Guy as a probable in-state recruit. That group included his mother. (“I never thought he’d go out of state,” she said.) But on a visit to Virginia in October 2014, prior to his junior season, Guy decided the Atlantic Coast Conference program was where he wanted to play.
“I had no intentions of committing,” Guy said. “I liked coach (Tony) Bennett when we talked on the phone. But once I got there it was a complete no-brainer. It was very surreal. I was shocked that it happened that early.”
Guy is the fourth Mr. Basketball in five years to leave the state. Homestead’s Caleb Swanigan, last year’s winner, was Purdue’s first Mr. Basketball since 1991. Guy said the coaching instability at the time at Butler was a concern and Purdue was never a serious contender, though he liked coach Matt Painter.
“Indiana was the complete opposite,” he said. “I loved IU and I liked coach (Tom) Crean. We just didn’t connect like coach Bennett and I did. It was nothing against him, it was just the way I was programmed.”
Guy never considered reopening his recruitment, which eliminated potential distractions. He had an outstanding junior season (20.3 ppg, 43 percent from 3), but Lawrence Central struggled to an 11-13 record against the state’s toughest schedule.
As a senior, Guy embraced a bigger leadership role, which showed up in multiple ways. Fans at a packed gym at Tech in the sectional got a glimpse of Guy’s personality when he consoled a distraught Walker after Lawrence Central’s 77-55 win.
“I appreciated (Guy) coming over and consoling me,” Walker said. “That was really good of him.”
Guy earned a measure of respect from fans and opponents that night. Then there was the night as a junior when Roncalli students chanted “Fix your hair!” at Guy. In between free throws, Guy ran a hand through his hair and smiled.
Duke’s student section will love him.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.
The Guy for 2016
Family: Kyle’s father, Joe Guy, and mother, Katy Fitzgerald, both graduated from Lawrence Central in 1995. His grandfather, Dick Patterson, is a former assistant principal at Lawrence Central. Kyle has five younger siblings: Collin (10) and Madison (6) to Joe and Amy Guy, and Tatum (12), Brady (10) and Bennett (18 months) to Tim and Katy Fitzgerald.
“He has a great support system,” Katy said.
Rankings: Guy is ranked No. 27 in the 2016 class nationally by ESPN, No. 42 by 247sports, No. 44 by Rivals and No. 52 by Scout.
By the numbers: Guy is Lawrence Central’s first Indiana All-Star since Jeremy Hollowell in 2012. He is the fourth Mr. Basketball from the Indianapolis area in the past five years (Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris won 2012, HSE’s Zak Irvin in 2013 and Tech’s Trey Lyles in 2014).