Fant scores 6 points in strong first half at Derby Classic

Fant scores 6 points in strong first half at Derby Classic

Zach Greenwell

LOUISVILLE — WKU signee George Fant didn’t make quite the same splash that future teammate Derrick Gordon did Friday night, but he was still determined to make an impact for himself and WKU.

Fant, who played alongside Gordon, totaled six points and four rebounds in 19 minutes, as his White team fell 126-122 to the Gold squad in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at the KFC Yum! Center.

“It was great out here, playing with these top talents like these guys,” Fant said. “All of these guys are really good players, and I think I came out and showed myself tonight. I did mostly rebounding, but hey, me and Derrick made a name for ourselves out here.”

Fant, a senior at Warren Central High School, got off to a hot start as a reserve for the White team.

He scored all six of his points in the first half, finishing the first two quarters 3-for-5 from the field.

Fant even quickly connected with Gordon, a guard from St. Patrick High School (N.J.), finishing a layup on the receiving end of Gordon’s lone assist of the night.

Gordon finished with 16 points in 19 minutes.

“My first assist was to him, and that’s just going to carry on until we get to Western,” Gordon said. “Our friendship is already good. That’s like my brother right there.”

Fant didn’t need help on his next two baskets, scoring on a spin move and drive, as well as a pull-up jumper.

Both were encouraging signs for the former power forward, as he’ll likely make the switch to small forward at WKU.

But Gordon said Fant has the skills necessary to play the new position.

“His jump shot is solid,” Gordon said. “He’s got to work on his handles a little bit more, but for him to play the 3 position, it’s going to be special. He’s very athletic, and he’s very gifted.”

Fant went quiet in the second half, missing all three shots he took.

But he said the night was just as much about representing for the Toppers as it was individual statistics.

Fant and Gordon both warmed up before the game in WKU shirts, the only two players to don school attire.

Both players were quick to take credit for the idea, but Fant said each has been making efforts to spread the WKU name.

“That was both of our idea,” Fant said, smiling. “I was like, ‘Hey, you still got your camp shirt,’ and he was like, ‘I’ve got mine.’ So we wore them. I had my red towel, but I left it in the hotel room.”

Fant’s sales pitch for WKU was also heard by other all stars throughout the week.

Fant said he and Gordon had been using the event to persuade Jeffersontown’s Tony Kimbro and Christian County’s Anthony Hickey to consider the Toppers.

Kimbro finished with eight points for the White team, and Hickey had five points for the Gold. Both players are still unsigned.

Fant also had the chance to spend one last go-around with his coach at Warren Central, Tim Riley, who served as an assistant for the White team. Warren Central won the 4th Region this season before falling to Eastern High School in the first round of the state tournament.

“I’m just really proud of George,” Riley said. “I’m really proud of him and to be a part of his life. He’s going to have a great career at Western Kentucky, and it’s going to be fun to be able to be right there and watch him. Now I’m going to become more like a parent.”

Riley and WKU fans will have another chance to watch Fant in June, when the forward will participate in the Kentucky-Indiana all-star series.

And by then, Fant said he thinks people around WKU will know the future is bright.

“Everybody in Bowling Green knows what I’m capable of, and (Gordon) showed everybody what he’s capable of,” he said. “We’re great players, and we’re going to go to Western and turn this around.”