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Two future Wildcats lead Kentucky All-Stars against Indiana

This is a week of dreams realized for Cassidy Rowe.

On Thursday, the longtime Kentucky women’s basketball commit was to move into her dorm room on the UK campus in Lexington ahead of her freshman year of college.

By Friday, Rowe will be in Owensboro, representing the commonwealth in the annual high school basketball rivalry series between the Indiana and Kentucky All-Stars.

Rowe, a Shelby Valley High School alumna from Pike County, will represent Eastern Kentucky a final time at the high school level by playing for the girls’ Kentucky All-Star team.

It was an opportunity that was temporarily in doubt.

Rowe told the Herald-Leader she wasn’t sure if she would be selected for the All-Star team: After overcoming two torn ACLs during her high school career, a wrist injury that required surgery meant Rowe was largely sidelined for the tryout process that determined the Kentucky squad.

“This is an opportunity that all basketball players in Kentucky wish to have and, unfortunately, I was going through a wrist injury at the time of tryouts, so I wasn’t able to participate in any of the drills and stuff,” Rowe explained. . “The coaches were gracious enough to still give me the chance to stay on the team and ever since I’ve been released I’ve been working really hard, getting a lot of shots up.”

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Shelby Valley’s Cassidy Rowe, a University of Kentucky signee, is one of 12 Kentucky All-Stars set to face the Indiana All-Stars this weekend. alex slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Rowe, who first played for Shelby Valley as a seventh-grader in the 2016-17 season, was one of 12 players named to the Kentucky team.

Among those joining her is Amiya Jenkins — the 2022 Kentucky Miss Basketball from Anderson County High School — and another future Wildcat.

Jenkins, who was also moving into her UK dorm on Thursday, said that despite learning about the All-Star rivalry recently, she’s excited for this year’s series.

“I actually didn’t know anything about it (the All-Star games) until I got invited to play last year on the (Kentucky) junior team,” Jenkins said. “It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m really appreciative of the opportunity.”

Jenkins, who selected Kentucky as her college over the likes of Penn State, Rutgers and Tennessee among others, averaged more than 20 points, five rebounds and four steals per game for Anderson County and helped lead her team to the Girls’ Sweet 16 basketball tournament this year.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Jenkins said of getting to represent Anderson County one final time at the high school level. “I’m excited to go out with a bang, but also kind of sad because it’ll be my last time playing for a high school organization.”

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Miss Basketball Amiya Jenkins (20) of Anderson County will play for the Kentucky All-Stars this weekend before moving on to her college career at UK. James Crisp

Jenkins and Rowe represent two of the 10 newcomers and six incoming freshmen to the UK program for next season.

Head coach Kyra Elzy has completely revamped the Kentucky roster following the departures of Dre’una Edwards, Rhyne Howard, Treasure Hunt, Jazmine Massengill and Olivia Owens.

In addition to being a preview of future seasons at Kentucky, the Jenkins-Rowe pairing for the Kentucky All-Stars is also a reminder of the past.

A few years ago, Jenkins and Rowe played travel basketball together with Kentucky Premier.

“I love all the chances that I get to play with my future teammates,” Jenkins said. “I take advantage of them to try to learn how they play and how we play together. It’s just a good learning experience.”

Other standout players on the girls’ roster include Josie Gilvin of Sacred Heart (Western Kentucky) and Gracie Merkle of Bullitt East (Bellarmine).

For each of the 12 players selected for the Kentucky All-Star team, the honor represents both an individual and collective accomplishment.

It’s a chance to be rewarded for successful high school careers, and also a final chance before college to represent their high schools and distinct regions of the state.

“It’s a really big honor just because a lot of people from Eastern Kentucky don’t get the recognition or stuff that some of the players from bigger schools would have,” Rowe said. “So it just makes it that much more special to me.”

This is something particularly relevant to Rowe, whose father, Lonnie, coached her at Shelby Valley.

Lonnie took over the Shelby Valley girls’ basketball program in 2018 and announced he was stepping down as head coach after the 2022 season.

“When I was really young, I didn’t have much knowledge on (the game), I just heard my dad talk about the Kentucky-Indiana All Star Game,” Rowe said. “As I got older I started to realize what a big deal it is in Kentucky, and I’m just really honored to be a part of that because it really is a dream for all basketball players in Kentucky.”

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Anderson County’s Amiya Jenkins, left, pressures Shelby Valley’s Cassidy Rowe (5) during a game at Lexington Catholic last season. Both players are part of the Kentucky All-Stars team and will be college teammates at UK this coming season. James Crisp

Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Games

Que: Annual basketball series featuring the top high school seniors from each state.

Where: Friday at the Owensboro Sportscenter in Owensboro and Saturday at Southport High School in Indianapolis.

When: Friday, girls’ game at 6:30 pm with boys to follow. Saturday, girls’ game at 5 pm with boys to follow.

Series: Indiana leads the boys’ series, 101-44 and has swept the last two meetings. Indiana also leads the girls’ series, 51-39. Indiana and Kentucky have split their two most recent games.

kentucky girls: Miss Basketball Amiya Jenkins, Anderson County; Jaileyah Cotton, Bardstown; Amaya Curry, Apollo; Macie Feldman, Notre Dame; Josie Gilvin, Sacred Heart; Lauren Hawthorne, Conner; Jenna Lillard, Ludlow; Monica Lindsey, Central Hardin; Gracie Merkle, Bullitt East; Riley Neal, North Oldham; Cassidy Rowe, Shelby Valley; Rylee Turner, Newport Central Catholic.

Kentucky Boys: Mr. Basketball Turner Buttry, Bowling Green; Kennedy Hayden, Ballard; James Jewell, Marion County, Jaiden Lawrence, Warren Central; Darien Lewis, Fern Creek; Andrew Mason, Bardstown; Jay Milburn, Campbellsville; Sam Powell, Oldham County; Mitchell Rylee, Covington Catholic; Jabrion Spikes, Caldwell County; Gavin Stevens, Pulaski County; Cade Stinnett, Greenwood.

Cameron Drummond works as a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader with a focus on the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program, in addition to other college, high school and professional sports in the area. Drummond is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Texas, before graduating from Indiana University in 2020. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who previously worked as a community news reporter for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper in Austin, Texas.

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