Alumni Spotlight: Vinson gets named Horizon Freshman of the 2021-2022 Year


(Courtesy of Sam Vinson)

An image of HHS alumni Sam Vinson getting ready to dribble the ball.

The swish of the hoop, the smell of the fresh basketball, the squeaking of the shoes. 

That’s what HHS alumni Sam Vinson experiences at basketball games.

On February 28, 2022, Highlands High School Graduate Sam Vinson has been named the Horizon League Freshman of the 2021-2022 Year.

“It felt good to win the award as it felt like hard work paid off. Now [I have to] focus on winning the conference tournament,” said Vinson.

This year at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Vinson averages a team-second-tying 11.8 points with 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and league-third 2.0 steals. He has scored in double figures in 19 of his 29 games thus far, with a career-high 24 points at UIC on January 20, 2022. In that game, Vinson also established career bests in field goals made (9) and attempts (18).

He ranks 21st nationally in total steals (59) and 34th in the country in steals per game (2.0). Vinson matched his top rebounding performance (eight boards) three different times, most recently at Detroit Mercy on Feb. 18.

“Sam is one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached. He took our program to a new height and took it to the highest level,” said HHS Boys Basketball Coach Kevin Listerman.

Prior to graduating, Vinson has had many accomplishments such as 2021 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year and Kentucky’s 9th Region Player of the Year. Vinson was a finalist for many awards, including, Mr. Basketball, the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, 2021 Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal, All-State First Team, while being named Bluegrass Preps and MaxPreps Kentucky Player of the Year honors. 

Along with this, he also led HHS (30-4) to the 2021 Kentucky State Championship, earning tournament MVP status after registering 23.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in the tournament.

Last year, during Vinson’s senior year, he averaged 22.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game while connecting on 56.7% of his field-goal attempts. He scored a total of 1,791 points during his prep career.

“I miss the people at Highlands that I was around all day and the way the fans were right there on the court.”

The third-seeded Norse begins to play this week in the 2022 Keeps Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship. NKU hosts a quarterfinal game at 7 P.M. Thursday, March 3rd  at the BB&T Arena against the second-highest remaining seed after Tuesday, February 22 first-round games.

“Sam is a special one because of his work ethic and talent,” said Listerman.

According to Vinson, his transition from high school to college was harder than he thought. He misses the school and the high school experience. 

“All the administrators and coaches at HHS have helped Sam prepare to be successful in balancing his workload and his athletic expectations,” said Father Ed Vinson.

The Vinsons can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.

“We couldn’t be more proud of his hard work, accomplishments, and his drive to succeed,” said Ed Vinson.