LOUISVILLE – Isaiah Cozart spent most of his Friday night guarding Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and a 360-pound offensive tackle signee to Ohio State.

Cozart certainly had his work cut out for him, but the Western Kentucky signee took his exhibition game Friday as a preview for what he’ll work against in college.

“It’s a learning experience since I’m going to college (Monday),” Cozart said. “It’s just everyday stuff over there. The more competition, the better.”

Cozart was a force on the boards in his nearly 21 minutes playing in the Kentucky vs. Indiana All-Star Game at Bellarmine University. The recent Madison Central graduate posted a team-high 12 rebounds and added eight points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor. Fellow WKU signee Jackson Harlan found most of his minutes off the bench in the second half of Kentucky’s 97-64 loss to the Indiana All-Stars.

That duo will play on the court one more time together Saturday when the week’s events conclude with the same matchups moving to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday night with the boys playing at 6 p.m. CDT.

WKU’s two in-state signees were roommates all week and will become roommates in Bowling Green when they move in Sunday and start classes Monday.

“It’s good for me and Isaiah to get to know him better and bond,” said Harlan, who had two points in nine minutes Friday. “This is the first time me and Isaiah got to bond one-on-one in a team setting. He’s a phenomenal guy and he’s already becoming one of my better friends and I’m just looking forward to it. We both have the same mindset about wanting to get better and working.”

Cozart was part of the starting lineup with Xavier signees KyKy Tandy (University Heights) and Dieonte Miles (Walton-Verona), Louisville signee David Johnson (Trinity) and Jordan Graham of George Rogers Clark High School.

Cozart gave up two scores in his four minutes on the floor, one of which was a slam dunk from Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and Hoosiers signee Trayce Jackson-Davis. Cozart had one defensive rebound and a steal before checking out at the first media timeout. He checked back in five minutes later and started making his impact with put-backs on back-to-back possessions and a block on Jackson-Davis.

Cozart logged eight minutes with four points, six rebounds and a block in the first half. Harlan came off the bench for almost two minutes and picked up two fouls in the first 20 minutes.

He finished with eight offensive rebounds, four on the defensive glass and swatted three shots mostly working against Jackson-Davis and Dawand Jones, a 6-8 football signee for the Buckeyes.

Compared to who Cozart will have to guard in practice at WKU – 6-11 center Charles Bassey – Friday was an easier test.

“Yeah, definitely,” Cozart said matter-of-factly. “That’s definitely going to be a thing. Probably even a lot more intense, most definitely. It’ll preview what’s about to come.”

The 6-foot-8, 239-pound Cozart committed to WKU over interests from Belmont, Charlotte and William and Mary and signed with the Hilltoppers in November.

Cozart was a three-star prospect who will join Harlan and four-star forward Nick Ongenda (Southwest Christian Academy, Little Rock, Ark.) on campus this summer. Four-star point guard Jordan Rawls is expected to reclassify and also join the team this fall.

Cozart finished his Madison Central career with the state record of 716 blocks, breaking J.R. VanHoose’s previous record of 541 career blocks. He averaged 20 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per game and was named the 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Stansbury discovered Harlan when Clinton County participated in a team camp at WKU about a year ago. The 6-foot-5 guard signed with WKU in November and led Clinton County to the Region 4 Tournament semifinals and a 24-8 record. Harlan averaged 23.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season for the Bulldogs.

Harlan played just two minutes in the first half and collected two fouls against Indiana and didn’t reenter the game until the final eight minutes with the Kentucky All-Stars trailing by 30 points. His two points came on a baseline jumper in the final minute. The Albany native also missed his only two 3-point attempts.

“I was just trying to earn my keep out there,” Harlan said. “I tried to do everything to benefit my team, get us back in it and give us some motivation to work harder and come back.”

Indiana has a commanding lead in the boys’ series 98-44 going into the next game at the home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. The Kentucky team played without Mr. Basketball winner Dontaie Allen of Pendleton County, the University of Kentucky signee, who suffered a torn ACL last December.{&end}

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Covering the Western Kentucky University athletics beat for the Bowling Green Daily News.

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