There are so many talented teams across the Bluegrass. There are a lot of regions that include multiple top teams in the state, so we should have a very competitive season ahead of us. It’ll be very interesting to see who can pave their way to the 2023 KHSAA State Tournament. Here are some of the teams that I feel have a good shot of making a deep run in March.
Please note that these are just opinions. I do recognize that it is way too early to actually pick a winner from each region, but if I had to pick only one before the season begins, the following are my early picks. I also want to note that I did not take into account newcomers or transfers in this article as rosters have not yet been finalized in KHSAA’s system.
Region 9: Cooper
The 9th region was, as always, one of the hardest to pick because of how many talented teams reside in this single region in Northern Kentucky. There’s a reason that 12 teams in the region finished with a winning record, but yet, there were no teams that were able to go completely undefeated in the region last season. These teams are really, really good and any of them could end up finishing on top when it matters. However, Cooper was able to finish last season on a very high note and they return the majority of their team as well, so I’m going with them for this article, but I’m definitely excited to see how all of these talented teams shape up this year.
Cooper ultimately fell short to Kentucky’s back-to-back defending state champions in the state tournament last season, but they won their final 12 games prior to that against some really tough competition. The Jaguars return their leading scorer and rebounder from last season in Lehigh commit,.
Lind averaged 16.7 ppg and 6.4 rpg while playing a huge role in her team’s success. She is a long, versatile player who can put the ball in the basket at all 3 levels.
They return 3 additional starters in, , and who averaged 9-10 ppg each last season. They all are high IQ players who straight up compete every second they’re on the court. led Cooper from outside of the arc last season, shooting over 40% from 3, but they can all knock down shots or score inside of the perimeter. Cooper is going to be so solid all-around. Some other key returners include Haylee Noel, Maleah Alexander, and .
Region 10: George Rogers Clark
GRC is the powerhouse in the 10th Region. There aren’t many teams that can match up with them because of their high level talent and size. They went a perfect 14-0 in their region last year and only lost 3 total games throughout their entire season. While there are other talented teams in this region, it is going to take a lot for them to dethrone the Cards. GRC returns their 2 leading scorers from last season in sisters, Brianna and. While they are very different players, they both bring a ton of versatility and length to the floor.
led GRC in both scoring and rebounding throughout her freshman year last season, averaging 17.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg. While she’s got incredible height and length, she actually plays more of a guard/wing position. She has all of the guard skills you could want from a player, but she can also finish around the basket extremely well.
Older sister, Brianna, was only slightly behind Ciara after averaging 15.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg. She’s committed to play at the University of Cincinnati next year, but she’s got a few more things she’s going to be looking to accomplish before that time. Like her younger sister, while Brianna has the length and athleticism to play down low, she does a great job on the wing and can truly impact the game at all 3 levels.
Another key returner is 8th grade floor general,. As a 7th grader, Stamper showed how smart and skilled she truly is. She can handle the ball and sees the floor at an elite level. She can also score if her team needs a basket, but she truly does whatever it takes to help her team win and is certainly one of the top 2027s in the state, if not #1. We don’t have 2027 profiles yet, so she shows up as a 2026 on here for that reason alone
Region 11: Franklin County
I’m going with Franklin County for the 11th Region simply based on their recent history and how well they’ve been able to recover from big losses in the past, but they did graduate their only 2 double digit scorers from last season, along with their main rebounder, so there is going to be a lot to overcome for the Flyers. However, many other teams in the 11th Region are in the same boat and are currently having to figure out their new identity on the court this year. If I knew more about this region, maybe my opinion would be different, but I really am anxious to see how this region shapes out this year once games officially begin. Franklin County’s leading returning scorer this season is senior,.
Chambers averaged 8.7 ppg and 3.9 rpg last season. She is viewed by many as one of the top players in the 11th Region as we begin this season. Chambers has good length and plays really hard. She is a true 2-way player. She has good handles, she can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, and she is a strong defender.
Frazee is always so solid when I watch her play. She’s strong and she gives 110% every second she’s on the floor. She averaged 4.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg as a freshman, but after graduating 2 key post players from last season, she is poised to increase those averages significantly this year. Frazee also shot an impressive 59.3% overall last season.
Meade is Franklin County’s leading returning rebounder this season after averaging 6.5 rpg last year. Like I mentioned above, the Flyers graduated 2 post players from last season, so Meade’s role should also increase this season. She is really strong and has great hands. I believe Meade will average a double-double this season as she looks to finish out her high school career strong.
Other key returners for Franklin County include(5 ppg/1.7 rpg) and (3.9 ppg/3.2 rpg).
Region 12: Southwestern
I really was torn between Southwestern and Mercer County for the 12th Region. I think Mercer County is going to be incredibly tough to beat in‘s final HS season. However, Southwestern opened a ton of eyes last season after winning the 12th Region and making it to the final 4 at the state tournament, and since they beat the Titans in the regional championship last season, I’m going with them for this article. Southwestern returns a lot of production from last year, including their leading scorer, Ayden Smiddy.
Smiddy is so solid in all aspects. She can handle the ball, she makes great passes, and her basketball IQ is very high. She does a great job utilizing fakes to get defenders off of their feet and she can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. Smiddy averaged 14.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg as a junior.
Molden is a really talented all-around player. She can light it up from deep, but she can also score inside of the perimeter through floaters, jump shots, and layups. She shot 34% from 3 last season though, so you have to really respect her ability to knock down shots. Molden can handle the ball, she’s a strong passer, and she’s tough. She averaged 14 ppg and 3.6 rpg as a freshman.
Acey is Southwestern’s main post player and she can really make a lot happen. She does a great job around the basket. She can finish well and she really works to get solid positioning to hold off her defenders. Acey also has the ability to play outside of the post as she can knock down shots and handle the ball. She averaged 12.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg as a sophomore.
Some additional key returners for Southwestern include Kaylee Young (7.9 ppg/4.3 rpg) and Jessalyn Flynn (2 ppg/1.1 rpg).
Region 13: Corbin
I believe the 13th Region will be really competitive between teams like Corbin, South Laurel, North Laurel, Bell County, Knox Central, etc. However, Corbin returns key players like, Darcie Anderson, and who played an integral role in them winning the region last season while also adding a big transfer in Kylie Clem, so I am going to ride with the Lady Redhounds for my preseason pick.
Housley is a versatile and smart player. She can score at all 3 levels and she does a great job of creating good shots. Teams have to respect her ability to knock down shots from deep range, so she uses fakes and dribble moves to get past defenders when she’s not knocking down 3s. Housley shot 35.1% from 3 last season while averaging a team-best 15.4 ppg and 4.8 rpg.
Anderson is such a strong floor general. Her basketball IQ and ball handling skills are so impressive. She can weave through defenders to get to the rim or she can knock down shots off of the dribble or catch. She finishes with contact and stays controlled. You can guard her well and she can still find ways to put the ball in the basket. Anderson shot a staggering 42.1% from 3 last season while averaging 12.1 ppg and 3.3 rpg.
Stewart plays so hard and she makes a lot happen through pure effort. She reads the passing lanes well and can come up with multiple steals in any given game. She crashes the boards strong and gets teammates involved. Once she gets a rebound, she’s ready to throw outlet passes down the floor to create fast break opportunities for her team. Stewart can also put the ball in the basket. She averaged 7.3 ppg and 4 rpg last season.
Another key returner for Corbin is sophomore Raegan Walker who averaged 5.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg as a freshman.
Region 14: Letcher County Central
I want to admit ahead of time that this is the region I am least familiar with, so I really could only base this on results from last season and individual players that I’m familiar with. So, I picked Letcher County Central as they went 18-1 in the 14th Region last year. While they graduated their leading scorer, they still return enough talent to have another successful season. They will be led by junior wing,.
Couch is a reliable and versatile player. She can handle physicality like it’s nothing. She has good length and she is a solid shot blocker defensively. Offensively, she takes great shots and can finish with contact. She does a great job finishing around the basket and she actually shot 51.2% overall last season. Couch averaged 12.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg as a sophomore and is expected to increase those numbers even more this season.
I’ve only gotten to watch Whitt play live one time, but that was all it took for me to see how strong she is as a defender. She has good length and strength, but she plays even bigger than what she is. Whitt is a really strong shot blocker and she does a great job of not swinging on her blocks, but rather she stays straight up and makes it obvious to the refs that she isn’t fouling. Whitt shot a team-best 52.6% last season while averaging 5.8 ppg and 4.7 rpg.
Bentley has point guard skills, but can also play off of the ball. She finds the gaps on the perimeter and once her teammates locate her, she catches the ball ready to fire. She is a solid defender as well. She can grab steals and then drive the length of the floor to finish layups. Bentley should play a larger role this season, but she still averaged 3 ppg and 1.1 rpg as a sophomore.
Region 15: Pikeville
Pikeville returns the majority of their team after an incredible showing last season where they went 31-3 on the season and a perfect 16-0 in the 15th Region. Not only have the Panthers been impressive on the court, but have you seen their social media? If not, you have to check out what Head Coach Kristy Orem is doing because between their locker room and unique media ideas, they are setting a great example for a player-first environment. And it seems to be working great as they have multiple star players who only want to do whatever it takes to help their team win games. They will be led by top-ranked juniors,and .
Rowe has one of the highest basketball IQs in the state, if not the highest. Her recognition and court vision are elite. She can be a difference maker for any team because of how well she creates for teammates, but she can also put the ball in the basket herself. Rowe plays hard and she is a true leader on the floor. She’s consistent and reliable, and I expect her to have another huge season for Pikeville this year. Rowe is the Lady Panthers leading returning scorer after averaging 15.9 ppg last season. She shot an impressive 52.2% overall and a staggering 48.7% from 3.
Thornsbury is as tough as they come. She never backs down and can battle with anyone. She’s also got a high IQ and she can make so much happen on or off of the ball. She’s the kind of player that can not score a point, but still highly affects the game. However, she can score at all 3 levels, so scoring 0 points in a game is beyond rare. In fact, Thornsbury averaged 11.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg as a sophomore. Her shooting percentages were also very impressive as she shot 47.8% overall and 37.7% from deep.
Theiss gets a lot of tough matchups as she is a huge presence inside for Pikeville. However, her toughness and physicality allows her to excel in any situation she faces. She does all of the little things that require effort. Theiss nearly averaged a double-double last season at 9 ppg and 9.7 rpg.
Pikeville has multiple other key returners, such as(7.3 ppg/1.7 rpg) and Leighan Jackson (5.1 ppg/3.4 rpg), but they also add another top 10 junior in Jenna Sparks.
Region 16: Rowan County
The 16th Region should be extremely competitive this year. Along with Rowan County, Russell, Ashland Blazer, and Boyd County are all team that should have really successful seasons and I honestly struggled to choose between them. There is a strong argument for every single one of those teams. However, I ultimately went with the Vikings because of the senior leadership they have inand .
Ford has an excellent skillset overall. She can legitimately contribute in any way imaginable whenever she steps on the floor. She’s got excellent ball handling skills, she makes great passes, she’s strong defensively, and she can really put the ball in the basket. Despite being an elite floor general, Ford actually led the Vikings in scoring and rebounding last season (20.4 ppg & 9.7 rpg).
Chandler’s effort cannot ever be questioned. She plays so hard every single game and she will do all of the little things needed to help her team get the win. When it comes to 50/50 balls, tough rebounds, transition defense, etc., give me Chandler all day long. However, she is also a solid scorer who can handle the ball and create for teammates. Last season, Chandler averaged 11.9 ppg and 4.3 rpg. As impressive as that is, I expect both of those numbers to be even higher in her senior season.
Some other key returners for Rowan County include Destiny Utterback (5 ppg/3.4 rpg), Kandance Chandler (4.8 ppg/2.1 rpg), and Kelsey Lewis (3 ppg/1.8 rpg).