Western Kentucky-bound guard Taveion Hollingsworth has done nothing but succeed when presented with a challenge.
As a junior he led Lexington Dunbar to the school's first-ever state championship. As a senior he was named the best player in the Bluegrass State, garnering Mr. Basketball honors after averaging 28.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Despite those accomplishments, Hollingsworth was mostly overlooked by many of the national recruiting scouts. A Scout.com three-star prospect, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound athlete didn't crack any of the top 100 lists - neither overall or at his position.
His impressive play has continued during in recent weeks as he participated in multiple all-star contests. Earlier this month he scored 19 points in the Kentucky v Ohio all-star game and was selected as the game's Most Valuable Player.
On Saturday, playing the star-studded Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, Hollingsworth didn't hesitate to take the challenge head on. He connected for multiple three-pointers and attacked the rim to finish with 18 points to earn team MVP honors. On Friday night, he teamed with Auburn-bound forward Chuma Okeke to win the event's 2-on-2 contest.
"I was under-the-radar and I wasn't top 100 at all, so for me to come out here and play the way I did was good," he said following Saturday's game held at Freedom Hall in Louisville. "It feels good showing everybody that I can play just as good as everybody else."
While he hasn't garnered the national rankings, Hollingsworth has allowed his game to speak for itself and his impressive resume is a testament to being overlooked.
"It shows everybody that I work hard for what I earn," he said.
Sporting a lighter frame than most at his position, many make the mistake of viewing Hollingsworth as somewhat one-demensional, but his play in the recent all-star outings provide evidence that he's much more than a deep-range shooter.
"Because of my weight and my height they think I'm a shooter, but I can take it to the basket," he said.
Part of a Hilltopper recruiting class that ranks among the nation's best, Hollingsworth anticipates the group making a significant impact next season.
"We should be really good and make a big impact in this conference," he said, adding that it could result in the program's first trip to the NCAA since 2013. "Maybe go dancing."
Hollingsworth anticipates arriving on The Hill to begin working on his rookie season around June 10.
"I'm excited for it," he said. "I'm ready for it."