Their current trajectories are at different stages in their respective careers, but they are following a similar course heading into this weekend.
Granted, Eastern Hancock graduate Emiley Carlton’s requires a three-plus hour one-way drive.
Invited to participate in the Ninth Annual Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic at Anderson University’s Kardatzke Wellness Center this Saturday, both Carlton and New Palestine’s Maximus Gizzi will be center stage for the eight-game basketball showcase.
Gizzi will compete in the first-ever Futures Boys Game, following a standout freshman campaign in 2016-17. For Carlton, a freshman at Millikin University, her appearance will bookend her memorable prep career as part of the Graduated Senior Girls Game.
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The Future Boys contest will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the Graduated Senior Boys at 6:30 p.m. and capped off with the Graduated Senior Girls at 8 p.m.
On Friday a pair of Junior Girls games start at 12:30 p.m. with the Future Girls Game at 4 p.m. before the Junior Boys doubleheader beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s exciting to me because I haven’t really been able to play in a game since regional. I didn’t play AAU this year,” Carlton said. “I’m especially excited to play with girls my age for one last time. The next couple of years, at least, I’m going to be playing with girls that are 20 or 21.”
While Saturday will be Carlton’s first live game since leading the Class 2A Royals to their first sectional title in 16 years this past February, she’s been active with Big Blue in Decatur, Ill.
Carlton has spent the past week with her new teammates and Millikin women’s head coach Lori Kerans, soaking up the college experience before classes begin in the fall. She’s competed in team scrimmages and has voluntarily assisted in the university’s outreach community basketball clinics.
Though roughly 3 hours and 20 minutes away from Charlottesville, Carlton says, she feels right at home.
“I love it. After this week, I know I made the right choice,” Carlton said. “It’s so cool that I got to play with these girls. I really got to know them this week. I’m excited to see how we work together.”
In her four years at Eastern Hancock, Carlton made quite an impression, and she hopes to continue the trend at the next level.
She finished her high school career with 1,078 points, shot 49 percent from the field and posted career highs in points (429) and rebounds (187) in her final season.
The Royals shocked Triton Central 57-50 in the sectional title game Feb. 4 and pushed to the regional final at Speedway High School on Feb. 11 before losing to Covenant Christian 52-44.
“It was a really amazing experience. I feel bad for those high school athletes that have never had a chance to experience that feeling,” Carlton remarked on her state tournament run. “I don’t think there will ever be a time when I look at those photos and not think about how I was feeling during the games and after we won and headed to regional. It was a whole school thing. Everyone got involved.”
At Millikin, Carlton, a 5-foot-11 forward, is doing the same, working with younger players from grade school to high school during Big Blue’s two-ball clinics while honing her own game.
On Saturday, she is anxious to get more reps in as she looks to improve her mid-range shooting and ball handling in preparation for this winter.
“They’re building up the program here, which is exciting to me because that’s how my high school career was when Jeremy (Powers) came in. He was building that program up,” Carlton said. “Obviously, my senior year we got what we wanted. We reached our goal. I’m thrilled to be part of a program like that again.”
Gizzi is on a mirrored path as an incoming sophomore in 2017-18. One of the Dragons’ cornerstone players during the program’s rebuilding 2016-17 season at 7-17, the team reached the sectional semifinals before losing to Bishop Chatard 51-48 on March 3.
Gizzi, a known commodity in the AAU circuit with Indiana Elite, led the Dragons with 12.3 points per game as a 5-11 freshman point guard.
His speed and ability to drive the lane led to 296 points on 43 percent shooting, while he dished out 3.7 assists per game and averaged 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
He scored a season-high 20 points twice — against Greenwood on Feb. 24 and New Castle on Dec. 16 — and converted 81 percent of his free throws on the year.
Following his showcase performance on Saturday, he will resume summer ball with ambition to get where Carlton is — the collegiate level.
The Classic could help in his pursuit as many of the state’s top players will converge to spotlight their talents.
“We’re blessed with the great opportunity to reach out to kids across the state of Indiana and help give them the opportunity to share their talents with college coaches all across the country,” event director and former Indiana University star Kent Benson said.
Contrary to years past, the Classic has hosted multiple senior games by classification, but due to players leaving for college earlier, these contests have been trimmed down to one game per gender with all four classes represented on the rosters.
The move allowed for the addition of Futures games, which includes sophomores and freshman like Gizzi, and provides a platform for exposure.
“This is now a true class all-star game,” event director Steve Stremming remarked.
2017 Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic
12:30 p.m./2 p.m.: Junior Girls games
4 p.m.: Future Girls game
6:30 p.m./8 p.m.: Junior Boys game
4 p.m.: Future Boys game
6:30 p.m.: Graduated Senior Boys game
8 p.m.: Graduated Senior Girls game
Where: Anderson University, Kardatzke Wellness Center
Futures Boys Rosters
Carson Barrett;Lafayette Central Catholic;Fr.
Cobie Barnes;Floyd Central;So.
Johnell Davis;21st Century;Fr.
Craig Young;Fort Wayne Wayne;So.
Zachary Mago;John Glenn;So.
Maximus Gizzi;New Palestine;Fr.
Kolten Sanford;Evansville North;Fr.
Jalen Windham;Ben Davis;So.
Nate Soltis;Cardinal Ritter;So.
Mikale Stevenson;Fort Wayne Southside;So.
Julien Hunter;New Albany;Fr.
Elijah Pancol;Pendleton Heights;So.
Graduated Seniors Girls Rosters
Keyla Hines;Franklin Central;Sr.
Mya Parker;Lawrence North;Sr.
Courtney Wise;Union City;Sr.
Monica Watkins;Liberty Christian;Sr.
Alec Fitts;Indianapolis Arlington;Sr.
Chyna McMichel;Crispus Attucks;Sr.
Sam Hammel;Pendleton Heights;Sr.
Valarie Clark;Center Grove;Sr.
Shay Harper;Crispus Attucks;Sr.
Audrey Minix;North White;Sr.
Courtney Raymer;Triton Central;Sr.
Tayler Vauters;Riverton Parke;Sr.
Emiley Carlton;Eastern Hancock;Sr.