By LARRY VAUGHT
KyKy Tandy says he likes a “challenge” and he proved that Friday night in the Marshall County Hoopfest.
The University Heights senior guard — who has signed with Xavier — poured in 31 points in a come from behind 81-78 win over Callaway, Miss.
Tandy was 6-for-11 from 2-point range, 5-for-12 from 3-point range and 4-for-5 at the foul line despite being the focus of Callaway’s defense. He also had seven rebounds and one steal.
“We have to be ready and this was a good test for us because we know everybody is coming for us this year,” said Tandy. “I like competition that is up to my level. That was a good challenge for us to prepare for tough teams in our region. It was physical, but I love that, too.”
Tandy got some big-time help from Drew McGowan, who has signed to play baseball at Mississippi State. He had 21 points and was 3-for-5 from 3-point range. He also had seven rebounds.
Tandy admits being signed with Xavier already takes some pressure off him in games like this.
“I don’t have to worry about coaches coming and I can just focus on the season and what we need to do. We have things to work on as a team, and I have things to work on,” Tandy said.
Performances like this certainly will enhance his position in the race for Mr. Basketball where Pendleton County’s Dontaie Allen, who plays in Hoopfest tonight, and Tandy are the frontrunners.
“That is one of my goals I had. Mr. Basketball could come but I just want to play the game I love, so I haven’t thought about Mr. Basketball a lot,” Tandy said. “These type games get you more exposure, especially if you win and fight hard like we did.”
So is Mr. Basketball more about his numbers, how his team does or a combination of the two?
“I feel like it is points and how many wins you get. If we make it to state, I should be a contender,” Tandy said. “I don’t really get into that. I just want to make my team win and have a good future.”
Tandy impressed Evan Daniels of FoxSports with his play Friday. Here’s what Daniels tweeted after the game: “Impressive showing by Xavier signee Kyky Tandy here at the Hoopfest. Tandy is different than what X has on campus. Scores it from all three levels.”
Yes he does and that’s why at one time Kentucky showed interest in Tandy before backing off and now has signed guard Tyrese Maxey, who will play at Marshall County Dec. 28-29, and has a commitment from guard Kahlil Whitney.
Tandy is fine, though, with his commitment to Xavier and first-year head coach Travis Steele.
“ I knew he would push me and academically it is great and will be good for my future,” Tandy said. “Since 1980 something they have graduated every athlete and that’s important to me.”