By Blake Lehman
NKyTribune Sports Journalist
Mitchell Rylee said his late mother and father inspired him when he was younger to blaze a trail into college basketball. As his high school career draws to a close, Rylee will have the opportunity to fulfill his parents’ wishes at Miami University of Ohio next season.
The Covington Catholic graduate will wrap up his high school career this weekend playing in the annual Kentucky-Indiana All-Stars series. The boys’ and girls’ games are Friday at the Owensboro Athletic Center and Saturday at Southport Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Rylee is the only local player selected to the Kentucky men’s team. The list of girls includes Notre Dame point guard Macie Feldman, Newport Central Catholic forward Rylee Turner, Ludlow center Jenna Lillard and Conner forward Lauren Hawthorne.
Rylee, who started his high school career in Beechwood, moved in with his aunt and uncle and transferred to CovCath after his mother died of liver disease and his father died of a heart condition. He said that every time he steps onto the pitch, his parents are the focus of his concerns.
“When I got to a mature enough age when I started to achieve things, one thing started to hit me, and that was that I was going to play for them,” Rylee said of her parents. “Every game I play is for them, and everything I do is for them. I just want to make them proud.
The 6-foot-8 postman was named the 9th Region’s Top Men’s Basketball Senior by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches after averaging 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and more than two blocks per game in the CovCath State Semifinal Team. He scored over 1,000 points during his high school career which started at Beechwood and ended at CovCath.
Rylee was invited to tryouts for the Kentucky Boys’ All-Star Team in April. He made the roster and is finishing his career playing for CovCath coach Scott Ruthsatz, who is in charge of this year’s All-Star Team.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” Rylee said of being selected. “I set this goal for myself at the end of last year to make the all-star team after learning the deep history behind it. Playing under Coach Ruthsatz a few more times is special too, most kids can’t do that.
Ruthsatz isn’t the only familiar face Rylee has come across recently. Last weekend, the Kentucky All-Stars had an exhibition game against the Kentucky Junior All-Stars. One of the junior team players was CovCath goalkeeper Evan Ipsaro.
“I trained with him, so it was definitely a different experience to be able to play against him on a bigger stage like that,” Rylee said. “He and I are best friends on and off the pitch, so it was a special experience to play against him once again.”
Rylee was the game’s leading scorer, scoring 26 points in his side’s 106-10 loss to the juniors. He said he managed to find common ground with his senior star teammates despite never playing with or against most of them.
“Being the only guy on the Northern Kentucky team definitely means something,” Rylee said. “A lot of us are chasing the dream of playing college basketball. Just being able to connect with them and seeing all these kids go to different schools across the United States, so just being able to get to know them for the rest of my life is special.
The Indiana All-Stars are 100-44 against Kentucky in boys games that began in 1940. Indiana has swept the two-game series every year since 2009 except for 2017. The Indiana girls are 51-39 against Kentucky. in their series that began in 1976. The teams split last year’s two games.