Shot clocks in Kentucky still muddled issue

·3 min read

May 18—The seemingly never-ending debate about using a shot clock in Kentucky high school basketball took another step forward last week.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association will allow individual schools to use shot clocks during specific events or tournaments next season if they choose, with commissioner Julian Tackett citing requests he's already received.

In January, the KHSAA's Board of Control decided against installing a shot clock. They used votes from member schools — 115-97 against adding one for boys and 117-88 against using one for girls — for their reasoning.

Looking at the numbers, there's not an overwhelming consensus. In fact, it's only 54% against a shot clock for boys and 57% against it for girls. It makes sense for the KHSAA to start diving into "what-if" scenarios.

"The only requirement is going to be that they have to provide data," Tackett told the Board of Control last week. "How many delays and resets did you have?"

It'd be interesting to see the data that gets compiled, but the KHSAA has already done some of the legwork.

At the state basketball tournaments this past season, the highest average time of possession on the boys' side was 25 seconds for Muhlenberg County in the Mustangs' Sweet 16 opening-round contest against North Oldham. On the girls' side, the highest average was 23 seconds.

Neither mark comes anywhere near the 35-second threshold that the National Federation of State High School Association has authorized for its members to use.

Of course, the state tournament is the highest level of hoops in Kentucky, so it makes sense that possessions wouldn't drag out for too long. At the same time, though, does "speeding up the game" warrant the time and money that it would take to install shot clocks at each school, if "speeding up the game" doesn't appear to be a problem at all?

Currently, 17 states use shot clocks in some form, and the calls for Kentucky to adopt it have only grown stronger in recent years. Based on the numbers, it wouldn't be a surprise if the KHSAA adds shot clocks in the near future.

At a cost of $3,000-$4,000 per school, though, it stands to reason that not every school will be able to prioritize adding shot clocks. If the rules change, though, they wouldn't have a choice.

However, where the main issue lies isn't with money as much as it is with manpower.

Adding a shot clock means adding new responsibilities to the often already-thin scorers' table. Sometimes it's difficult for teams to even find clock operators, bookkeepers or public address announcers. Throwing one more person into that mix could be a near-impossible task for some programs. Plus, that person needs to be properly trained, which will only add to the strain.

So, the possibility of using a shot clock permanently took another step forward, but we're not there quite yet. For now, at least, they're in an experimental phase.

However, the march to change always starts with a single step — and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in the near future.