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Heroes of the High School Sweet 16: Wes Unseld

Caption/photog info Wes Unseld, left, poses for a photo on the red carpet with Grayson County High School Athletic Director E.E. "Red" McGhee. Photo by Jonathan Palmer of Lexington Herald Leader

Hey High School basketball fans. We are about midway through the season and some awesome games are happening across our state. Today was a snow day for me so I’ve decided to resurrect some research I’ve done and have a little Flashback Friday. I’d like to revisit some of the KHSAA Sweet 16’s greatest athletes as the season progresses.

So let’s talk about Wes Unseld. Any basketball enthusiast over 30 knows the name; He’s an NBA Hall of Famer, Champion (1978), and Finals MVP (1978). But do our younger generations know? His NBA career is easily Googled. NBA.com has a summary of his professional career listed in their NBA Encyclopedia: Playoff Edition. We know he played for the Bullets and we know he was drafted 2nd overall in 1968 coming from the University of Louisville. Forget about the NBA, forget about the NCAA. He was a Kentucky High School phenom first.

 

Unseld hails from Seneca High School in Louisville and his accolades are plenty. He lead Seneca to back-to-back KHSAA State Championships, a feat only accomplished by five schools in the history of Kentucky High School Basketball. The Redhawks won it all in 1963 and 1964 at two different locations. The 1963 Championship was held at Freedom Hall, in Louisville, which likely brought the whole town in for their win against Lexington Dunbar… then 1964’s tournament was held at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington for their takedown of Breckinridge County. Deservingly so, Wes was elected KY Mr. Basketball in 1964, a title given to only one young man at the end of each basketball season (with the exception of Harry Todd and Ralph Richardson being co-recipients in 1958.)

Believe me when I say this — Wes Unseld rocked the Sweet 16:

– 1964 Championship Game Scoring Leader (29 points)
– 1st all-time Rebounds in a Sweet 16 Tournament (88 rebounds)
– 3rd all-time Rebounds in a Championship Game (22 rebounds)
– 3rd all-time Rebounds in a Single Tournament Game (25 rebounds)
– 5th all-time Percentage of a Championship Team’s Points (42.2%)
– 9th all-time Field Goals Made in All Tournaments (68)
– 10th all-time Field Goals Made in a Single Tournament (43)
– 12th all-time Sweet 16 Scoring Record (166 points total)

Wes Unseld, left, poses for a photo on the red carpet with Grayson County High School Athletic Director E.E. “Red” McGhee. Photo by Jonathan Palmer of Lexington Herald Leader

When it comes to dominance in the state tournament, Unseld defines it. And according to the record books — he truly came alive in the post season, as many have topped his regular season records, but few have proved to be that clutch under the pressures of elimination. This KHSAA Hall of Famer’s legacy is one of the most impressive.

Kayla VanHoose, Bluegrass Basketball

For current high school updates, follow @BluegrassBball on twitter.

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