After a one year hiatus due to the coronavirus, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association crowned a new state champion in boy’s basketball on Saturday night.
It was the Fort Thomas Highlands Bluebirds who capped off an incredible Sweet 16 run with a convincing 79-60 win over Elizabethtown, capturing their first ever state championship.
I would highly recommend heading to Rupp Arena next year to check out the tournament if you’ve never witnessed it with your own eyes. The unique 16-region format and pageantry of the annual event are truly something to behold.
Those few days in March are where driveway fantasies come to Iife and legends are born.
I was absolutely thrilled that one those KHSAA legends accepted an invite to join me this week on the Kentucky Dad Podcast.
J.R. Vanhoose was a complete menace to the statistics book while playing for Paintsville High School between 1994-1998.
The 6-10, 245-pound big-man in the middle tallied over 3,000 points during his playing career, but it was his contributions to the win loss column that left a more lasting impression.
VanHoose miraculously managed to play in four consecutive KHSAA Sweet 16s at Rupp Arena, including as a freshman in 199,5 followed by winning it all and being named tournament MVP as a sophomore in 1996.
In 1997, Paintsville fell in the semifinals and the following year in the finals. Despite coming up just short of another state title in 1998, VanHoose was named Mr. Basketball, closing out his career on a high note.
As if playing in four straight state tournaments wouldn’t be thrilling enough, can you imagine doing it during the 96-98 Kentucky Wildcat runs when hoops fever was at its complete peak?
It was one incredibly impressive career and one that deservingly has J.R. VanHoose cemented in the KHSAA Hall of Fame.
After being courted by several nearby top programs, including Kentucky and Indiana, VanHoose opted to play his college basketball at Marshall University, a school located just 60 miles from his hometown.
It was a decision that VanHoose himself has said was the right one for him and he has no regrets. It was interesting to listen to J.R. talk about the recruiting experience while being ranked as one of the top rated players in the country.
He gave gratitude to his parents for encouraging him to keep paper logs for phone calls with coaches and to this day he still has the several large Tupperware containers worth of letters sent to him in the mail.
When questioned about his decision to attend Marshall, you get the same answer.
“It was a great fit for me. My family was close and could see me play and I had a really good career,.” VanHoose told Gary P. West of the Bowling Green Daily News in a 2019 interview.
The scoring machine never slowed down averaging 16 points and just under 10 boards per game in his four seasons at Marshall, also earning him a Hall of Fame induction.
So what’s J.R. up to these days?
As a self-proclaimed proud historian, VanHoose now lives his life as a dedicated teacher, coach and family man.
It would an awesome discussion that any basketball fan from Kentucky should enjoy.
We covered all the usual topics and mixed in quite a bit more sports than usual.
- TV Dads
- Dinner plans
- Last good cry
- Being recruited by Pitino
- Basketball trading cards
- Dad jokes