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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Neltner's Number (Guest post by Ben Petracco)

After the trophies and championships the next greatest honor an athlete can have bestowed upon them is have their number retired. Highlands High School honored one of their own Friday night when they retired Ross Neltner’s number 45.

Ross had an amazing career at Highlands where he was named 2003 Mr. Basketball in Kentucky, averaging 20.2 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. His outstanding production on the court helped lead the team to a 27-3 record his senior year. He was the top vote getter for the First Team All-State by the Louisville Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald Leader. Ross was not only a team captain for Highlands but was also named a team captain of the Kentucky High School All Stars.

Ross’ on court dominance and athleticism made him a top recruit out of high school where he was pursued by Vanderbilt, LSU, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan. Of these schools, LSU won out initially, but after two years at LSU Ross opted to finish his education and basketball career with Vanderbilt.

At 6’9” Neltner was an undeniable presence in the paint, grabbing rebounds and disrupting close range offensive attempts, but he was also a threat with his jump shot and uncanny passing ability. He was such a versatile player for his height that offenses didn’t know how to contain him. He could nail the pull up jumper with ease, be the assist man setting up his teammates or get in the post and prey on the ill prepared defense. He could do it all.

Ross played basketball with skill and agility rarely seen in the high school gym. He earned awards and accolades with humility, which made him an even greater person to cheer on. Ross had a character and dignity that you couldn’t help but appreciate; yes Neltner was an amazing basketball player, but his on court accomplishments may always be eclipsed by the amazing person that he was off the court.

Congratulation Number 45.

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