The Aspire Academy basketball program landed in Louisville last year with no ties to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association but now is trying to get that changed.
For now, at least, the KHSAA isn’t budging.
During a meeting last month in Lexington, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett denied Aspire’s request to join as an associate member.
Jeremy Kipness, co-founder and head coach of Aspire, said the program now is entering the appeals process.
“There’s not a negative to this,” Kipness said. “We just want to be recognized by the KHSAA as a scholastic program.”
Aspire is a basketball academy that recruits players from around the nation and competes in select events throughout the season. Its players attended DeSales High School last season, but the program moved to Holy Cross this season because the school could offer housing for its players.
Kipness said Aspire’s main goal in getting KHSAA membership is to be eligible for several national tournaments, especially the GEICO High School Nationals. Kipness said membership also would allow Aspire to play other top Kentucky programs during the regular season.
Kipness said Aspire does not want to compete for the Kentucky state championship and added that KHSAA schools would benefit if his program is allowed to join.
Aspire currently has two seniors who have committed to NCAA Division I schools — guards Caleb Fields (Arkansas State) and Jihaun Westbrook (Colorado State) — and several other players being recruited by top programs. Charles Bassey, now a freshman at Western Kentucky University, was a five-star recruit who played for Aspire last season.
“Membership would allow us to compete against the Trinitys and the Covington Catholics and the St. Xs,” Kipness said. “We have high-caliber players who are being recruited at all levels. You’ll have all these college coaches in the gym who initially came just to watch us, and one of their players could have a great game and all of a sudden they’re being recruited.
“For us, it’s not about trying to come in and take all of the Kentucky players and beat all of these teams by 50 and try to play for a state championship at the end of the year. It’s being able to bring that exposure and recognition to the state.”