Rose Hill at Ashland

Rose Hill's Kenny Wilburn makes a defensiver rebound against Ashland during the first quarter. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

Kenny Wilburn thinks big things are coming for Rose Hill Christian basketball.

The graduating senior was the biggest player piece of the Royals getting in position for such a potential resurgence.

Wilburn averaged 22.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season for Rose Hill — placing him 27th in the state and fourth in the 16th Region in points per game and fourth in the region in boards per outing.

Wilburn parlayed that production into an opportunity with Marion Military Institute, a junior college in Alabama. He signed with the Tigers last month.

“I think it’ll bring out the best in me,” Wilburn said. “It’s a great school, I like the military environment, and it gives me a good chance to play some very good competition up there in Alabama.”

He should be used to that. Wilburn’s upperclassman seasons on Winslow Road came as coach Johnny Bush stepped up the Royals’ schedule over the past couple of years as part of a concerted effort to grow the program.

“Johnny, he’s been working with us for the last three years and he knew it was time for more competition,” Wilburn said. “I feel like if Rose Hill keeps going on the path they’re going, they’ll start winning some games against some bigger schools.”

The Royals have a combined 10 victories over the last two seasons, but two of them during Wilburn’s junior campaign marked clear milestones and program building blocks.

On Dec. 15, 2018, Rose Hill knocked off Sciotoville (Portsmouth East) 75-67 to end a 30-game skid against public schools. Six weeks later, the Royals topped Fairview, 71-64, to snap a 28-game losing streak against 16th Region foes and a 70-game slumber versus 64th District opponents.

The Royals long for a day when such wins won’t be newsworthy. Wilburn scored 22 points against the Tartans and 33 against the Eagles to start Rose Hill in that direction.

“I thought it brought some hope to the program,” Wilburn said, “and a little glimpse of what’s in store for the future.”

Wilburn played small forward for the Royals. He listed his height at 6-foot-1, so he anticipates playing guard at the next level, he said, and has worked to prepare himself accordingly.

“I’m more of the driving type,” Wilburn said. “I like to drive to the basket and finish around there. ... I’m really working on my 3-point game and my ballhandling.”

With some traditional means of conditioning unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilburn has gone for runs, worked out around the house and lifted weights at a friend’s house, he said. He also gets physical activity through his landscaping job.

Wilburn had a signing ceremony at the school just as healthy-at-home restrictions began to ease.

“I was really glad that we actually got to have a ceremony,” he said. “I wasn’t sure with all the stuff going on, but I’m glad we got to have one, for family to be there.”

Wilburn plans to study mechanical engineering.

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