Hollingsworth, Robinson shine in prep all-star games

Matthew Stewart

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the incoming 2017 signing class for the WKU basketball team. Two of the nine incoming players in WKU Head Coach Rick Stansbury’s consensus top-10 recruiting class helped validate some of that hype with big-time performances over the weekend.

WKU signee Taveion Hollingsworth dropped 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic game in Louisville on Saturday. With the performance, Hollingsworth earned the MVP honor for the Thunder squad.

He went 7-15 from the floor in 21 minutes of play. The Lexington native is early proof of Stansbury’s deep connection with Bluegrass basketball.

As a junior, Taveion led the Dunbar Bulldogs to a KHSAA State Championship title. That same year he was a Kentucky Mr. Basketball finalist.

This year has been one for the books for Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth added Kentucky Mr. Basketball and the Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year awards to his collection, and has won two post season MVP tournament awards. In addition to the Derby Festival Classic honor, Hollingsworth also walked away with MVP awards at the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game where he scored 19 points to lead the Kentucky team to victory.

The Derby Festival Basketball Classic has been played since 1973 and is known as the oldest high school all-star game in the nation. Hollingsworth is the first WKU signee to play in the game since George Fant and Derrick Gordon in 2011.

Mitchell Robinson — who signed with WKU to become the first ever five-star recruit for the Tops — was also in action over the weekend. Just a few weeks after playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Robinson played in another national all-star game on Friday.

Last month, the five-star center went for 14 points on 7-9 shooting in the McDonald’s All-American Game, but improved on that performance Friday night.

Robinson represented the Hilltoppers in the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The seven-foot big man from Chalmette High School in Louisiana scored 15 points in the outing, highlighted by six dunks. He shot a perfect 7-7 from the floor.

In the first half, Robinson had a game high of 13 points,  showing glimpses of what may be coming to the Hill.

The top headline of WKU basketball in 2017, Robinson is ranked as the number four prospect in the 2017 class by 247Sports.

In the two high profile all-star games, he had amassed 29 points and 11 dunks all while shooting 14-16 from the field. In his senior season at Chalmette, he averaged 25.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 7.1 blocks per game. Robinson led his team to Louisiana’s Class 5A state semifinals this season.

Only time will tell what the players can do when they take the court for the Tops, but outings like these only help.

Reporter Matthew Stewart can be reached at 859-797-3140 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MES_WKU22.