HENDERSON, Ky. — It’s only fitting that KyKy Tandy, the Commonwealth’s No. 2 prospect in the 2019 class, has the state abbreviation — times two — as his nickname. But it’s still a question if Tandy will be the next in-state signee Kentucky fans can call their own.
Tandy scored 34 points Thursday night as his University Heights Academy team beat Hopkins County Central 104-74 in the 2nd region of the Kentucky high school playoffs. The performance came less than a week after Tandy’s unofficial visit to Kentucky.
But the 6-foot-1, 160-pound shooting guard from Hopkinsville hasn’t yet received an offer from John Calipari.
“When I went up there I knew they had interest in me,” Tandy told SEC Country on Thursday. “But they weren’t recruiting me that hard at first. So, I feel like they got more interest in me then. We’ll just go from there.”
Tandy said he went to a game at Rupp Arena last season, but not on any sort of visit. Saturday was different.
“It was a great experience,” Tandy said. “I was shocked. Like their locker room and stuff is crazy. It was a great facility. I don’t think any college got that.”
Dekeyvan Tandy started going by “KyKy” (pronounced “key-key”) when he was little. People wanted him to have a nickname, he said. But now he has to correct people who can’t even pronounce the nickname.
It might not be a problem for long.
Tandy’s name is not only gaining traction in the state, but also nationally. He’s the 150th-ranked prospect in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite. He has scholarship offers from Florida, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Western Kentucky and New Mexico State.
“I don’t think that necessarily triggers [Kentucky] to do anything, but I think his recent success and the buzz around the state of just how good of a player he could potentially be — and offensively already is — probably got them a little more interested,” University Heights coach Grant Shouse said.
Tandy is averaging 30.6 points per game on 61 percent shooting. He’s drilled 45 percent of his 3s.
“He’s a phenomenal scorer,” Shouse said. “He’s so athletic. Some would say maybe his size [is a weakness], but he plays so big it’s hard to really criticize that. He gets great elevation on his jump shot and he’s so quick with the ball. I’ve not seen anyone keep him in front of them.”
Shouse said the shooting guard’s efficiency is his most impressive trait. Tandy isn’t jacking 40 shots per game. He takes about 20 shots and gets 30-plus points, Shouse said.
Tandy’s offensive abilities were obvious Thursday night. He’s undersized but strong. Tandy bullied his way past weaker defenders, rocked the rim on three breakaway dunks and made deep 3-pointers. He did that without disrupting the offense. The ball didn’t stick when it got to him.
That unselfish playing style almost seemed to conflict with what he said after the game.
“I just want to go to a college that I can get a lot of playing time my freshman year, and then throughout the years get a lot of playing time and be the focal point of the team,” Tandy said.
The 3-star prospect likely would be in a class with multiple 5-star prospects if he landed at Kentucky. Tandy said he’d have no issue playing alongside other top-ranked players.
Tandy’s lack of consistent defensive effort is likely keeping him from being an elite prospect. He wasn’t locked in defensively Thursday, and Shouse said that’s some of the feedback he’s heard from college coaches.
“I think he could be an outstanding defender once he buys in to that end of the floor,” Shouse said. “His lateral quickness is great, he’s so athletic. And there’s times where he buys in and really locks people up. We’re working on that every day.”
Tandy has another year of high school left, and he’s not close to making a decision or even forming a list.
“I had some schools that I like, but right now I don’t like no schools,” Tandy said. “I just worry about getting to the state championship.”
Kentucky assistant Joel Justus is his primary recruiter, but Tandy said his dad handles most of the recruiting conversations. Tandy expects one or two members of Kentucky’s staff to watch him play for the regional title Monday if University Heights wins Saturday.
“I’m just waiting for [Kentucky] to show more interest,” Tandy said.
Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis, members of the 2013 signing class, were the last in-state prospects to sign with Kentucky. Tandy seemed to realize how some UK fans would love the chance to cheer for another homegrown player.
“That would be interesting because they really don’t recruit in-state kids,” Tandy said. “If I get an offer, that’d be solid.”
Shouse said Kentucky made a few inquiries earlier in the season, but interest has picked up since the district playoffs.
“Obviously being a Kentucky kid he really, really likes the thought of being there,” Shouse said. “He really enjoyed his visit, talked very highly of the facilities, the players and just their length and athleticism.
“Being in Rupp Arena on the floor down there gave him a great sense of what it would be like.”