WKU basketball signees bond during all-star weekend

Big Red urges the crowd to rise to its feet in support of WKU during the second half of WKU’s game vs MTSU in Diddle Arena. 

Alec Jessie & Drake Kizer

The WKU basketball program got a glimpse of its future this weekend, as 2019 signees Isaiah Cozart and Jackson Harlan took part in the annual Kentucky vs. Indiana All-Star doubleheader at Bellarmine and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The two WKU signees suited up for the Kentucky All-Stars in the two-game set, with Cozart getting the start in both contests. Though the future Hilltoppers posted solid performances, the Indiana All-Stars blew out Kentucky 97-64 on Friday and 120-74 on Saturday.

Cozart tied for second in points for Kentucky on Friday, scoring eight on 4-of-8 shooting. He also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Cozart cooled off on Saturday, tallying six rebounds, one assist, one block and seven points on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor.

Harlan found limited minutes off the bench, posting a rather modest stat line on Friday, with just two points, a rebound and an assist. In less than eight minutes on Saturday, Harlan grabbed one rebound and scored three points on one made 3-pointer in the first half.

{{tncms-inline account=”KYAllStarGame” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Isaiah Cozart (<a href="https://twitter.com/bigcoz50?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@bigcoz50</a>) with the strong rebound and finish!Kentucky 11Indiana 22 <a href="https://t.co/9FF1o2Shki">pic.twitter.com/9FF1o2Shki</a></p>— Kentucky All-Stars (@KYAllStarGame) <a href="https://twitter.com/KYAllStarGame/status/1137161406921486338?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 8, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”1137161406921486338″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”KYAllStarGame” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Jackson Harlan with a nice THREE!!!Kentucky 23Indiana 29 <a href="https://t.co/R064oOa2mX">pic.twitter.com/R064oOa2mX</a></p>— Kentucky All-Stars (@KYAllStarGame) <a href="https://twitter.com/KYAllStarGame/status/1137517415997349891?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 9, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”1137517415997349891″ type=”twitter”}}

Cozart was the first of the fall signees, who committed back in October and signed on Nov. 14. The three-star recruit played his high school ball at Madison Central High School in Richmond, where he was named the Gatorade Kentucky Boys Basketball Player of the Year on March 18.

The 180-pound forward has a knack for shot blocking thanks to his 6-foot-7-inch frame. Just two games into his senior year, Cozart became Kentucky’s all-time leading shot blocker, recording his 542nd block. He finished his career with 716 blocks.

Cozart averaged 20 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.8 blocks and one assist per game as a senior this season. He said he used the first half of the doubleheader as a “preview” of what’s to come with his college basketball career on the horizon.

“It’s a learning experience since I’m going to college in like a week,” Cozart said Friday. “So, this is just everyday stuff over there. The more competition, the better … that’s just gonna be literally every day for the rest of the two months that I’m there [at WKU] for summer.”

Harlan inked his commitment on Nov. 15. The 6-foot-5-inch guard attended Clinton County High School in Albany, where he averaged 26.4 points per game on 47% shooting as a junior.

The 185-pounder was also a high-scoring player during his senior year, averaging 23.9 PPG in 2018-19. 247Sports did not include the small-town scoring machine in its recruiting rankings.

Harlan said after the weekend’s opening contest that he was stoked to get on campus and begin practicing for the upcoming season.

“I’m hugely excited,” Harlan said Friday. “I’m ready to get to work, move in. It’s kinda hectic right now, but I’m really looking forward to just starting to workout as soon as I can on Monday.”

Harlan and Cozart will be teammates on the court this fall, but they’re quickly becoming good friends off the court — the WKU signees were roommates during the all-star festivities and will also room together on the Hill after the freshmen arrive to campus.

“Me and Jackson are pretty good friends,” Cozart said. “We definitely experienced a lot together. We’re definitely trying to get closer together because we’re rooming in college and stuff, going to the same college. So yeah, I know him pretty well.”

Harlan had kind words for Cozart as well.

“He’s a phenomenal guy, and he’s already becoming one of my better friends,” Harlan said about Cozart. “You know, just a good workout partner — I can see it already, we both have the same mindset about wanting to get better and grinding and woking.”

Cozart also said that with the return of freshman phenom Charles Bassey, the Hilltoppers have all the chops to be a good team this fall.

“It’s gonna make a really good team,” Cozart said. “With Charles back and then Taveion Hollingsworth. We got guys transferring that are also really good. So, I just have full confidence that we’ll definitely go the NCAA [Tournament] this year, most definitely.”

Cozart and Harlan will look to contribute during the 2019-20 season, as head coach Rick Stansbury looks to secure a Conference USA Tournament crown and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2013 postseason.

Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.