FORTVILLE — When the prospects of being named an Indiana All-Star came up in casual conversation last week, Mt. Vernon senior Michael Ertel’s attention perked up.
He called it a dream, and struggled, at first, to find the right words.
“It would be an honor,” the point guard remarked. “It’s definitely something I would love. It would be cool, but who knows?”
On Monday, Ertel and the rest of the state’s lucky 13 found out for certain as the official roster for the 2017 Indiana Boys All-Star team was released.
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A total of 13 senior players were voted to the team, including Ertel, who will play in four games this June — two against the Kentucky All-Stars — wearing the state’s coveted red, white and blue.
Ertel, a University of Louisiana-Monroe recruit, is the first player from the Mt. Vernon boys basketball program elected as an Indiana All-Star since Daniel Turner in 2010.
Overall, Mt. Vernon has had a total of eight boys and girls selected as Indiana All-Stars since 1978. Ertel is the ninth. He is the third boys player chosen all time since Brian Gilpin in 1992.
This past season, Ertel averaged 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He shot 44 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free-throw line.
Where he was most deadly, however, was from long range where buried 69 3-pointers and 184 in his career.
“I do like the three,” Ertel said. “It’s an extra point. I always feel like I’m open, too.”
With 1,282 points in his career, Ertel, a four-year varsity player, will graduate as the program’s second all-time leading scorer. He finished 18 points better than C.J. Coleman (1,264 in 2014) and 108 points behind Tim Miller (1,390 in 1998).
“From the day he walked in here, he could shoot it, but each year, he’s expanded his ability to make more plays for himself and for others,” Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty said. “This year, he had a game of 14 rebounds, which is pretty rare for a point guard. But his ability to impact the game so many ways at both ends of the floor really distinguishes him.”
Ertel was named IBCA Large School Senior All-State this postseason and earned first-team All-Hoosier Heritage Conference honors.
The senior was an IBCA Academic All-State first team selection and picked to compete in the 29th Annual North/South Indiana All-Star Classic this past Sunday. He was also voted as the unanimous 2016-17 Hancock County Player of the Year.
Oddly enough, Ertel almost traveled a different sports path, he admits, before turning his attention to basketball in junior high school.
“When I was little, I actually played more baseball and football. I played more basketball when the season came around,” Ertel recalled. “I really liked catcher and shortstop, but I was left-handed, so as I got older, I couldn’t really play.
“I was a pretty good pitcher, too, but it just wasn’t for me.”
His decision to focus solely on hoops paid off with an Indiana Junior All-Star nod last summer and a chance to continue his career in the Sun Belt Conference as a Warhawk at Louisiana-Monroe.
“I’m really excited. I love it down there. It’s a beautiful campus and they have great coaches,” Ertel said. “They really made me a priority in the recruiting process. A lot of other schools would call me but not fully commit to me. I really liked that they knew they wanted me.”
The state of Indiana does as well, along with 2016-17 Indiana Mr. Basketball front runners Kris Wilkes of North Central, Cooper Neese of Cloverdale, Jack Nunge of Castle, among others.
The Indiana All-Stars will compete against the Junior All-Stars in a pair of exhibition games on June 6 at New Albany and June 8 at Plainfield. The first game against the Kentucky All-Stars will be June 10 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The two-game series will conclude on June 11 at Central Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Ky.
All four games will be doubleheaders with the Indiana Girls All-Stars, which includes Greenfield-Central’s Madison Wise.
“If you look at all the places I’ve played in over my career, it’s pretty cool,” Ertel said. “I’ve played in the nicest high school gyms in the world, even getting to play at Bankers Life a couple of times. Those are things you don’t forget.”
2017 Indiana Boys All-Stars
Name, School, Height, Pos., PPG, College Choice
Jaylen Butz, Fort Wayne North, 6-10, F, 17.2, DePaul
Jermaine Couisnard, East Chicago Central, 6-4, G, 27.5, undecided
Michael Ertel, Mt. Vernon (Fortville), 6-2, G, 19.8, Louisiana-Monroe
Zach Gunn, Hamilton Southeastern, 6-6, F, 21.2, Ball State
Kyle Mangas, Warsaw, 6-3, G, 22.6, Indiana Wesleyan
Jaylen Minnett, Terre Haute South, 6-1, G, 25.8, IUPUI
Cooper Neese, Cloverdale, 6-4, G, 27.2, Butler
Jack Nunge, Castle, 6-10, F, 22.8, Iowa
Grant Smith, Connersville, 6-6, F, 18.9, Indiana Wesleyan
Mack Smith, Warren Central, 6-2, F, 19.5, Eastern Illinois
Sasha Stefanovic, Crown Point, 6-4, G, 19.9, Purdue
Kris Wilkes, North Central, 6-7, F, 22.1, UCLA
Malik Williams, Fort Wayne Snider, 7-0, F, 21.5, Louisville
Head coach: Marty Beasley, Carroll (Fort Wayne)
Assistant coaches: Kerry Brown, Connersville; Mark Galloway, Culver