INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Guy asks for something, and you don’t want to let him down. Seriously, if you knew him, you wouldn’t want that. He’s just so damn nice, so earnest, sweet like a little kid. Yes, I’m aware, Guy is no child. He’s 24, the 2016 IndyStar Mr. Basketball winner at Lawrence Central, a 2019 NCAA champion at Virginia, now three years into his NBA career. He can handle himself.
But he’s not going to love this story. Not the size of it, or the scope.
You need the background.
Get a job like this, like mine, and I don’t care who you are – you get to meet some neat people. Kyle Guy is one of those. Such a normal young man, such an abnormal talent. Met him and his family in December 2016, his freshman season at Virginia, when the Cavaliers visited Louisville, and wrote about that fuzzy thing on his head. A man-bun, or something. His hair made him a target on the road, and he didn’t care.
Kyle Guy is a 6-1, 167-pound terminator on the court. You remember the 2019 NCAA Tournament? He helped oust Purdue in the Elite Eight with 25 points and 10 rebounds, then scored six points in the final seven seconds – including three free throws at the end – to beat Auburn in the Final Four, then scored 24 in the title game against Texas Tech. He’s so good, he was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but so normal that he admitted to being “terrified” before those three free throws against Auburn, down two with 0.6 seconds left.
So normal, he’d suffered from anxiety and panic attacks before the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round to a No. 16 seed, Kyle Guy retreated into the shower and sat on the floor, alone and crying. We know all of that because Guy wanted us to know, wanted to advance the conversation about mental health.
A 6-1, 167-pound superhero off the court, is what he is. But sheepish, hoping for a favor and uncomfortable having to ask. Like, who is he to ask a favor? That’s what he’s thinking, and yes, I know exactly who Kyle Guy is. I’m just telling you, that’s his mentality. This is how he asked:
“I don’t want come off demanding,” he’d texted, “but I was wondering if you’d do a short piece on the Pro-Am I’m putting on in Indy?”
His Pro-Am will bring some of the state’s best players to Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville this summer. Schedules for athletes like this can change, but Guy has preliminary commitments from locals in the NBA (Tyrese Haliburton, Gary Harris, Kelan Martin, Trevon Bluiett, Lance Stephenson, the Teague brothers, Guy himself) and NCAA (Anthony Leal, Mason Gillis) and high school (Myles Colvin, a 2023 Purdue commit from Heritage Christian).
Absolutely, I’d told him, that’s a story I can write. As for you, more details coming at the end of this piece, including how you can sponsor or otherwise get involved in the “Dizzy Runs Pro-Am,” managed by Guy and his former trainer, an ex-Harlem Globetrotter named Derick “Dizzy” Grant.
“Thanks so much for doing this,” Kyle texted back. “Don’t feel like it has to be a long story.”
Sorry, Kyle. It’ll be long. And about more than the Pro-Am you’re putting on in Indy.
Where’d our Pro-Am’s go, anyway?
For the best basketball city in the best basketball state in the country, we don’t have the best track record for Pro-Am basketball leagues. Near as I can tell after scouring Indy Star and old Indianapolis News archives, we had a major summer league for about 10 years in the 1980s and ‘90s, then another around 2015-16.
Typical Indianapolis, that first one was pretty good. The NBA started sanctioning a series of Pro-Am leagues in 1982, according to the Indy News, “to provide quality community basketball and to help develop referees, coaches and trainers for possible careers in the NBA.”
It was a different time.
In those early days you’d see Pacers or otherwise locally connected players like Vern Fleming, Randy Wittman, Jim Thomas, Ray Tolbert and Greg Dreiling. You know how Indiana has produced great athletes like eventual Duke basketball star Josh McRoberts of Carmel, Western Kentucky All-American high-jumper (and all-conference volleyball player) Katie Isenbarger of Zionsville, and Northwestern sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer, the state’s all-time No. 16 boys scorer from Lafayette Jeff?
Their dads used to play in what was called the Coca-Cola Pro-Am. Mark Barnhizer, coaching Cloverdale at the time, averaged 45.3 ppg in 1986. Other elite Pro-Am players included former Butler star Tim McRoberts and IU’s Phil Isenbarger. The newspaper ran the schedule and scores. Teams had names like Flying W, Arvin Auto and 500 Liquors.
A different time, I tell you.
The City League started up last year at the Boner Fitness and Learning Center and returns this year, and it has some names you’d recognize, but the Coca-Cola Pro-Am was different, sanctioned by the NBA, all that.
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Since Kyle Guy has been in the NBA, parts of two seasons in Sacramento and one in Miami, he’s played in Pro Am leagues in other cities to stay sharp in the summer.
“There really weren’t many options close by,” he said. “Another reason we wanted to bring this (Dizzy Runs Pro-Am) to the table.”
Another reason? Oh, right. Here was his first reason, as he’d explained earlier:
“Anything to help my city,” he’d said, “is what I want to do.”
Kyle Guy is our champion
Some more background:
Kyle Guy asked me to write about his Pro-Am, and that’s all he did. Here are more details: Six teams playing on Tuesdays from July 12-Aug. 2, with the title game Aug. 6, all at Mojo Up in Noblesville. Lots of local stars – you saw those names earlier. For more information or to get involved, email Mojo Up facility director Eric Schellhammer at email@example.com.
That information is all Kyle was hoping for, and it’s about all I’d planned to write. Seriously, what more is there to say? Here’s a new summer league. Here are the dates, some names. There’s an email address. Done.
But the internet is a rabbit hole, you know? And sometimes it leads to beautiful places, humble and woefully under-promoted places like the Kyle Guy Foundation. Kyle never told me about that – Google did. Says here, the foundation will hold its third annual golf event June 25 at Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville. The first two in 2020 and ’21 raised nearly $100,000 for causes including human trafficking, equality and veterans.
Here’s more from the foundation’s website, because I don’t know how better to explain a philanthropy concept I’d never heard of before:
“We offer a unique way of fundraising and donating,” it says. “You can choose what cause your donation goes towards, (and) after you decide the cause and donation, we reach out to multiple organizations nationally or locally to support your cause.”
A hurricane of help, this guy, but basketball is his primary method. He’s offering a basketball camp for kids in grades 2-9 on July 11-12 at Mojo Up Sports Complex, promising hydration, a small player-to-coach ratio, NBA players and “full refunds for any cancellation reason,” though my favorite part of the website is this line: “You will receive an email one week before camp with reminders and a link to order lunch for your camper.”
There are also two Kyle Guy Elite AAU teams. Many NBA players have an AAU program with their name on it, but how many actually coach it? Kyle Guy does.
Guy visits with local high schools during offseason workouts, urging them to work for their dream, then posing for a group picture that suggests dreams really can come true; short, slender and with floppy hair and a boyish face, Guy looks like one of the high school kids, not the NBA player speaking to them.
Guy will host the KG24 camp this summer, an elite camp for the top 20 boys prospects in the class of 2023, along with four more players he believes deserves more buzz than they’ve received. I’m hearing he’s even tried to host a celebrity softball game at Victory Field, as Pacers and Colts players have done in the past, but was told no. And he wasn’t pleased!
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Ah well. He’ll continue using his Twitter feed as a local force of good as well, celebrating when the Cleveland Browns drafted Warren Central’s David Bell and promoting an under-recruited player on a competing AAU team, Carmel’s Garwey Dual of George Hill’s G3-All Indy, noting: “I’ve seen him 3 straight weekends.. just makes winning plays non-stop. (Recruiters) will wake up soon enough.”
No, this isn’t the story Kyle Guy wanted. He’ll be pleased with the Pro-Am stuff, but he wasn’t looking for this kind of attention. Too bad, I’m saying. That’s what he gets for being a 6-1, 167-pound champion of our city.
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