Newport’s boys basketball team has been busy this summer.
The defending Ninth Region champion Wildcats are in Shelbyville for the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches (KABC) Titans Shootout. They meet Louisville Butler at 5 p.m. Friday at Shelby County.
It’s the first time Newport has participated in the event. What head coach Rod Snapp likes about it: because it is an NCAA-certified event, college coaches will be in the stands.
“We just know that it’s a lot of good competition,” Snapp said. “We’re up to play anybody; we’re just trying to get better, improve over the summer.”
Newport won a 20-team tournament at Lawrenceburg last week, which included a win over Walton-Verona in the finals. The Wildcats played in Covington Catholic’s summer league and scrimmaged Simon Kenton.
“We’ve played at Moeller, we’ve played La Salle, we played Reynoldsburg, Ohio,” Snapp said. “We’ve played quite a bit.”
Newport is essentially the same group from last year’s 28-7 squad; the Wildcats lost just one senior – Georgetown College-bound Marquez Miller, who averaged 15.9 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
“We’re just figuring out different ways to play without (Miller),” Snapp said. “You’re not going to replace him, of course.”
The good news: the Wildcats’ next three leading scorers, sophomore Taylen Kinney (13.9 points a game), senior Jabari Covington (12.0) and sophomore James Turner (8.5) return.
“We definitely will be a little smaller, more guard-oriented, definitely want to push the pace more,” Snapp said. “Everybody has to box out, contribute on the rebounding now.”
Newport is also expected to welcome Taft transfer DeShaun Jackson. “He will be an instant impact,” Snapp said. “He’s a strong guard, 6-3, averaged eight points and nine assists a game.”
Ryle, Walton-Verona and Lloyd Memorial are also in the 64-team field. The Raiders start with Jeffersontown at noon Friday at Shelby Christian Church, the Bearcats take on Roger Bacon at 5 p.m. at Shelby County High School, and the Juggernauts have Henry Clay at 5 p.m. at Shelby County.
“For us, a lot of it’s gonna be exposure,” Walton-Verona coach Mike Hester said. “I’ve got a couple guys who are going to want to play at the next level.”
Walton-Verona is expected to bring back four of five double-figure scorers from last year’s 20-11 squad: junior Aaron Gutman (17.5 points per contest), senior Julian Dixon (15.7), senior Zach Smith (10.8) and senior Max Montgomery (10.1). Dixon and Gutman grabbed 8.8 and 6.7 rebounds, respectively.
Lloyd spent last week at a team camp at Purdue University.
“We’re really young,” Juggernauts coach Mike Walker said. “We don’t have any seniors, so we’re just a bunch of sophomores and juniors. We have four guys who played varsity last returning, and that’s it.”
They might be young, but the Juggernauts do feature rising junior E.J. Walker, who’s landed over a dozen Division I offers as he continues to impress on the AAU circuit.
Newport Central Catholic and Simon Kenton are in separate 32-team brackets. The Thoroughbreds play LaRue County at 11 a.m. Friday at Shelby County, and the Pioneers have Danville Christian Academy at 2 p.m. Saturday at Collins.