LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Following 31 wins and a 7th Region title last season, the Male High School boys basketball team looked primed to contend for its first state championship since 1975.
“We had a lot of passion and a lot of hard work that we put in last year to get to that point,” senior Cameron Pope said.
But like everyone else, the Bulldogs could not compete for one due to COVID-19 canceling the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.
“We were the best team in the state last year and for us to not be able to play the state tournament, these kids are hungry to get back to Rupp Arena,” Male head coach Tim Haworth said.
The squad definitely has the talent and expectations to do it. It returns a talented trio in two seniors, Pope (a Jacksonville State signee) and Dez Lindsay, plus the top-ranked player in Kentucky for the class of 2023: sophomore Kaleb Glenn.
“His ceiling is high,” Haworth said. “He’s so athletic, big and strong. It’s just about him working every single day doing all the extra stuff it takes to be at that next level.”
Haworth praises Glenn’s work ethic and believes the young star will show his improvement as a ball-handler and shooter, playing him more on the wing. The top-50 national prospect said he wants to become a better leader.
“Be more vocal,” Glenn said. “I try to teach everybody what’s going on because we only got three players that returned from last year.”
“He gets down on himself a lot,” Pope said. “It’s kind of cause he’s young and I went through it too. But I share my advice and experience. He’ll get through it.”
Younger players like Glenn will have to step up this season with multiple key contributors gone from last year due to graduation. There won’t be much room for error with less time to prepare and a shortened season, so Haworth is holding a high standard.
“It’s up to you,” Pope said of Haworth’s coaching. “He’ll give you your role. You just have to do what you can to fit that role and help the team. But it’s really a blueprint.”
“Just not making excuses,” Haworth said he wants of younger players. “If their teammate is open, making sure they can make the extra pass to maybe give up a good shot for a great shot. Defensively, just sacrificing their body.”
That of course will help Male have a shot at the ultimate prize.
“If we’re all one, then I feel like we can win that state championship,” Pope said.