By LARRY VAUGHT
Once Cassidy Jo Rowe got a scholarship offer from Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, things got a little “crazy” for the Shelby Valley freshman.
“The local (TV) news channels starting making stories about me. It’s just crazy that so many people know me. It shows the hard work I put in and it was just an honor to get that offer,” said the eastern Kentucky standout.
She’s now got five Division I offers — before she ever starts high school. Murray, Northern Kentucky and Morehead all offered before UK. A few days after the UK offer, she got one from Denver.
Unlike most eastern Kentucky athletes, Rowe did not grow up a Kentucky fan. Instead, she’s been a Louisville fan.
“But since Kentucky showed interest in me, I started paying attention to them and their coaching staff has been so good to me,” Rowe, who played against incoming UK freshman Blair Green of Harlan County in summer ball, said. “Coach Mitchell likes the fact that I always hustle and the way I take charge on the court.”
Her father, Lonnie, who was recently named the new head coach at Shelby Valley after coaching the middle school team before, said you could likely count the Louisville fans in their area on one hand. However, one of them is Lonnie Rowe.
“I grew up watching Louisville in the early 80’s when Louisville basketball was fun,” Lonnie Rowe said. “What I liked, she liked when she was little. I take a lot of ribbing for being a Louisville fan. I am easy to get along with but I understand with all the trouble the men’s basketball program has had why I get some ribbing. But I never rooted against Kentucky. I am mainly just a fan of basketball.”
Cassidy Jo Rowe, age 15, averaged 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last year for Shelby Valley (29-5). She was 53 of 144 from 3-point range (38 percent).
“No one really mentions my 3-point shooting but that is one of my best things,” Cassidy Jo Rowe said. “Usually everyone looks at me hustling, trying to make teammates better. But I work hard to be a good shooter.”
Her father never saw the UK offer coming so early.
“It shocked all of us. She performed really well in Chicago (for Kentucky Premier in AAU play) and UK coaches came to every game,” Lonnie Rowe said. “I knew they liked her but had no idea they would offer. It’s normal to get to know kids for down the road. They stayed in close contact with her last summer. So even though she’s been a Louisville fan, she was ecstatic to get the offer from Kentucky.”
Rowe tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee earlier this month. She knows the normal recovery period is six to nine months but hopes to return in time to play this season.
“It’s going to be tough not playing. I am going to want to work as hard as I can and they might have to tell me to slow down,” the Shelby Valley freshman, who had surgery last week, said. “All these offers are just motivation to get better and just knowing these people and coaches believe in me really motivates me to just keep working and get even better. We’ll see how it goes. I am not sure what I will do with my recruiting because right now my focus has to be on rehab and just getting back out on the court.”
She came home the same day she had the surgery and started physical therapy the next day on her own.
“She is one of the most self driven kids I have ever coached,” Lonnie Rowe said. “She has always been like that.”