Players on boys’ roster staying close for college

INDIANAPOLIS — A decision that becomes difficult for most came very easy for former Crown Point sharpshooter Grant Gelon.

Like his college head coach Tom Crean, Gelon said deciding to sign with Indiana University was an obvious choice.

When Crean was hired on April 1, 2008, his reasoning for leaving Marquette and heading to Bloomington was simple.

“It’s Indiana,” he said at his initial news conference.

After Gelon and the Indiana All-Stars thumped Kentucky 106-84 on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Gelon echoed similar thoughts.

“They believe in me, that was the big thing,” Gelon said. “That’s huge for me and the things we can accomplish. But it’s IU; how could you say no?”

Gelon, who stands 6-foot-5, scored three points on 1 of 2 shooting from behind the 3-point line in 11 minutes of action. To complete the series sweep Sunday, though, Indiana squeaked out a 99-96 nail-biter with Gelon missing all three of his shots in just seven minutes of action.

With the graduation of sharpshooter Nick Zeisloft (65 threes during 2015-16 season), Crean needed a replacement.

As shown Sunday, Gelon will need to follow in the footsteps of Zeisloft, who improved his overall game — most noticeably on the defensive end — in his only two seasons at Indiana after transferring from Illinois State.

Filling up the basket shouldn’t be the problem, though, as Gelon nailed 274 3-pointers (41.9 percent) in three varsity seasons at Crown Point.

“I think he is a very good shooter and that is probably why they recruited him,” said boys all-stars coach Stacy Meyer of Greensburg. “His lateral quickness and defense on the ball (needs improvement); he has a great IQ.”

Gelon, who reported to campus Monday, joins three other all-stars who will remain close to home. Kyle Mallers (Fort Wayne Carroll), like Gelon and 6-foot-10 center Joey Brunk of Southport (Butler), will stay in Indiana and attend Ball State.

“(Ball State’s) improvement as a program, it’s all moving in the right direction,” the 6-foot-7 Mallers said after scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds Saturday. “They are recruiting in-state kids and have a lot of talent. Moving up to the next level will definitely be a big physical change.

“This week has definitely been beneficial. I have been guarding Joey (Brunk) a lot, because we didn’t have a lot of size. It helps with what I can do, guard a bunch of positions, and he definitely gave me a challenge.”

Mallers graduated Sunday and was unable to play.

Brunk had a monster game Saturday with 16 points and 14 rebounds and was effective Sunday, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds.

“He (Brunk) has a nose for the basketball, and I think Butler is the right spot for him,” added Meyer.

Evansville Reitz guard Dru Smith (6-foot-2) will remain close to home at the University of Evansville. He scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds Saturday and finished with nine points and five rebounds in the win Sunday.

However, not all of the state’s top recruits will be staying in Indiana.

Lawrence Central’s Kyle Guywill play at Virginia, which finished last season 29-8 and claimed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers needed to replace graduating Malcolm Brogdon, a likely NBA Draft pick, and found a capable replacement in Guy, who averaged 23.5 points per game and made 63 threes as a senior.

Also a solid facilitator, Guy scored 14 points and dished out seven assists Saturday. He did not play Sunday.

Arsenal Tech’s C.J. Walker will head to Florida State. The point guard averaged 24.6 points and 5.4 assists his last season under Titans head coach Jason Delaney. He did not play Sunday but contributed 14 points Saturday.

Eugene German of Gary 21st Century may have been the biggest steal from the state. He scored 20 points Saturday to be named Most Valuable Player and was even better Sunday, netting 34 points on 4-for-8 shooting from behind the arc. He will attend Northern Illinois.

Some of the players staying in state cited that as a reason for their college decision.

“It’s close to home, and my family can come to games,” Mallers said. “It’s what I wanted to do, and Ball State was a good fit.”

On both the boys’ and girls sides combined, 10 of the 26 all-stars will attend Indiana colleges or universities. Mt. Vernon’s Sydney Shelton will join Lebanon’s Kristen Spolyar at Butler, while Miss Basketball Jackie Young will play at Notre Dame.

Ae’Rianna Harris of Lawrence North, a 6-foot-1 forward, will attend Purdue, while Heritage Christian’s Darby Foresman will play at Indiana. Greenwood guard Holly Hoopingarner will play at IUPUI.

All-Star Weekend

Game 1, Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana All-Stars 106, Kentucky All-Stars 84

Game 2, Bellarmine College

Indiana All-Stars 99, Kentucky All-Stars 96

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.