George Rogers Clark senior Bopper Stenzel didn't change his approach when he tried out for the Kentucky-Indiana All-Stars more than two weeks ago at Georgetown College.
“I just played hard, played as hard as I could and played good defense,” he said. “I didn't shoot well, but played good defense and competed.”
Those traits were enough to land Stenzel a spot on the 12-member Kentucky All-Star squad Monday and becomes the fourth Clark player in the past nine years to make the prestigious team. Corey Rogers, currently on football scholarship at Tennessee-Martin, made the team last season. Former Clark standouts Preston Knowles and Bo Harris also have been past participants.
“It's an honor,” Stenzel said Monday. “It's really awesome and I'm really blessed.”
“It's a great honor for him,” Clark boys basketball coach Scott Humphrey added. “I couldn't be happier for him. There were 40-something guys going out for (12) spots and they all were good players. It's tough to make it, but he did exceptionally well. He didn't back down from anybody, competed extremely hard and he was fortunate enough to make it.”
Kentucky coach Jason Booher, who serves as boys basketball coach at Covington Holmes, said Stenzel's aggressiveness “stood out” during the one-day tryout.
“Bopper played extremely hard and played really aggressive defense,” Booher said. “He is a very smart, heady player on the floor. (and those) things allowed him to stand out at the tryouts.”
Booher said he expects Stenzel to contribute as a point guard.
“He will have to be a floor general floor us, bring hard-nosed defense, and just compete while on the floor,” he said.
Clark senior center Adam Fatkin also tried out for the team, but missed the final cut. Humphrey said Booher, along with assistant coaches Allen Feldhaus Jr (Madison Central) and Mason County coach Chris O'Hearn, were looking to add guards instead of stocking the roster with post players.
“I thought Adam had a great tryout as well, but it's just the coaches were looking for more guards than wing players and post guys,” Humphrey said.
The Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game is set for June 8 at Freedom Hall and June 9 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Until then, Stenzel plans to “stay in shape.”
Booher and his staff will spend the next month preparing for the two-game series and added that he expects the annual doubleheader to be a challenge for the Kentucky squad, but said his team will be prepared.
“We are going to have to be a better team than them,” he said. “They have mostly high major Division I players this year. We will have to execute to near perfection on both ends of the floor to have a chance at beating them. Kentucky has a lot of pride in basketball and I know our kids will be ready to compete.”
Kentucky All-Star team: Nathan Dieudonne (Trinity), Matt Day (Buckhorn), Charles Foster (Trinity), Jay Johnson (Woodford County), Twin Lancaster (Logan County), Tamron Manning (Scott County), Jaysean Paige (Perry Central), Bopper Stenzel (George Rogers Clark), Jeril Taylor (Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park), Mike Terry (Fairview), D.J. Townsend (Rowan County), Adam Wing (Rowan County), Mekale McKay (Louisville Moore)
Head coach: Jason Booher, Holmes. Assistant coaches: Allen Feldhaus Jr., Madison Central and Chris O’Hearn, Mason County.