ANDERSON — A talented young group of players is bringing optimism for the future of New Palestine boys basketball. One of the brightest members of the roster gained valuable experience Saturday in the Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic, played at Anderson University.

Maximus Gizzi played on the White team in the Futures game, featuring freshmen and sophomores from all classes of Indiana basketball. While his team lost to the Red squad 96-90 and Gizzi did not fill the stat sheet, the day spent among some of the best in the state was one he won’t soon forget.

“It’s a crazy great experience,” the freshman guard said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. Now, I know what to expect, I learned a lot from a great coach and great teammates. The upperclassmen took me under their wing as one of the younger guys, so it’s been one of the great experiences of my life so far.”

Gizzi, who averaged 12.3 points per game last season, scored two points with an assist and a steal in the game. But he said competing in this event taught him lessons he can take back to New Palestine with him for next season.

“I know what to work on now, I know my weaknesses and know what my strengths are,” he said. “I think I’ll be a much better player next year because I know what to expect.”

If the Dragons are to improve on last season’s 7-17 mark, it won’t be because the schedule gets easier. Gizzi knows continued improvement by the Dragons will be key next season.

“Our competition is good every year so you’ve got to improve,” he said. “Otherwise, if you don’t work hard in the offseason, you won’t get better. I think once the pieces come together, things will start clicking. (Optimism) is very high in New Pal.”

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Rob Hunt covers news, sports and other happenings in South Madison County. He can be reached at rhunt@pendletontimespost.com or (765) 778-2324.