Easley, Hankins lead fast paced offense at IU Team Camp

Jared Rigdon, Print Editor-in-Chief

  • IU Team Camp 5 Takeaways

Kevin Easley is [still] a Star:
Turns out, nothing has changed in the four plus months since Easley dropped a career high 35 points against HSE and led Lawrence North to the sectional final against North Central. Once again Sunday, Easley proved to be the most dominant force on the hardwood from start to finish. Although missing 6’9” juggernaut Keion Brooks, Easley fooled around with Fort Wayne North’s smaller lineup, forcing his 6’7” frame into the face of Austin Boucher and Lucas Kroft in the third game of the afternoon at IU. Despite the little challenge provided by the small lineup of the Legends in the last game, the first two affairs went even more smooth for the senior. Easley found his jump shot early in the matchup with Marion as LN quickly jumped out to a double digit lead and never looking back en route to a 27 point victory over Marion and a 28 point victory against Indian Creek. Easley, coming off an appearance in the Junior-Senior Indiana All Star Scrimmages, should be primed for a big senior season. While a Mr. Basketball title would be challenging with the likes of New Albany’s Romeo Langford, McCutcheon’s Robert Phinisee and Tindley’s Eric Hunter all entering their senior campaigns, an Indiana All-Star Jersey might be waiting at the end of the road for Easley.

Jared Hankins means business:
If you looked closely at the face of the 6’4” guard wearing No. 10 at the start of the day, but finishing in No. 30, you could tell it was the same determined face from a year ago. However, it only took two minutes to watch Jared Hankins in action to realize it was a much different player. After serving as a bonafide role player last season, it seems that Hankins is on the verge of breaking out. Perhaps he already has. Hankins went for as many as 51 on the AAU circuit this spring, dropping the career high on the would be birthday of his sister Jordan, who passed away in January. Primarily thought of as a knock down shooter, Hankins showed a whole new aspect of his game on Sunday, dishing out assists and becoming physically imposing inside, grabbing rebounds and putting shots up. Hankins took it upon himself to blow open the lead against Fort Wayne North, and was one of the two best players on the court at all time. This breakout show is coming at the right time for the rising junior, who has or will eventually participate at five collegiate individual camps while also playing in three team college camps. According to the Twitter Page of his AAU Team, Indiana Elite Fastbreak, Hankins drew attention from coaches after his performance at the Youngstown St. camp. Look for Hankins to be one of LN’s top players this season and one of the best in the MIC.

The offense can still run, even without Cushingberry:
Besides being without 6’9” center Ra Kpedi, a now Freshman at Vermont, LN was down an additional key piece from last year’s team. Antwaan Cushingberry, a 5’8” senior and three year starter for LN, will now finish out his career at Manual. The team’s natural point guard kept the offense running in his three years at LN, but no doubt, it won’t slow down without him. From the opening tip, Jack Keefer had the Wildcats running and gunning, constantly yelling when the tempo got too slow. LN certainly has the players to do it, and a legitimate point guard in sophomore Mike Saunders to keep the offense in check. The upspeed offensive style for LN proved key in the three victories, and also showed LN’s athletic ability to force turnovers and cause havoc for opposing offenses. While Cushingberry’s leadership will be missed, don’t expect LN to skip a beat.

DJ Hughes could be the next big thing:
Another year, another talented freshman. Or so seems to be the theme. DJ Hughes came off the bench for LN on Sunday, but that may be a testament to the talent level on the team then his overall potential. Hughes stands at right near 6’6”, making him the second tallest member of LN’s team, but that’s not where it stops. Emphatic slams and a three block possession proved that Hughes has the ability to become a difference maker whenever he wants to. Already able to shoot the three, become a lockdown defender and fly above the basket will cause problems for MIC teams and others around the state who don’t have that ability off the bench. It might not be this year, but look for the baskets to start falling and the college coaches to come calling in the near future.

LN, Fort Wayne North collision course:
Perhaps Sunday was just a teaser for the fans in attendance. The real thing is yet to come. June 25th is a long ways away from March 24th, the night of the 4A State Title Game, but we might’ve seen a preview game in Assembly Hall on Sunday Afternoon. When Keion Brooks is in the lineup along with Lucas Kroft and Austin Boucher, the Legends can be as dangerous as any. On the other side, Lawrence North’s ultra athletic lineup has the ability to play and run with anyone. Sure there are those standing in the way. Teams such as New Albany, McCutcheon, Bloomington South, Cathedral and virtually every MIC team there is, LN and Fort Wayne North could definitely find themselves matched up under the bright lights of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and that’s where I picture they’ll be.