With a simple phone call last night, Terre Haute native Armon Bassett gave IU Coach Mike Davis the news he wanted to hear – Bassett wanted to start calling Bloomington home.
The 6-1, 170-pound combo guard, who is playing this season at prep school powerhouse Hargrave Military Academy, pledged to the Hoosiers last night, giving Davis some much-needed good news on the recruiting front. He'll join the team next fall with four years of eligibility remaining, providing Davis and his staff with a player capable of playing either guard spot.
"He's a tremendous talent," said Hargrave Military Coach Kevin Keatts. "He has a knack to score the basketball, and then he has the ability to get people involved. He's also a lot more athletic than people give him credit for."
Bassett, who starred at Terre Haute South H.S. before enrolling at the Virginia prep school this fall, originally verballed to Missouri, but wound up re-opening his recruitment in early September.
Keatts said that was a tough decision for Bassett to make, but one his player believed was necessary.
"I think sometimes kids rush into decisions," said Keatts. "Not that Missouri was a rush, but I just think he didn't think it through. When that happens, you wind up going back and saying, ‘is this what I really want to do?'
"Missouri did a great job recruiting him – I don't think it's anything personally that they did why he's not going there."
Keatts was also impressed with the job the IU staff did in its pursuit of Bassett, most notably the fact they didn't recruit him while he remained committed to Coach Quin Snyder's program.
"I'll give Indiana a lot of credit because they weren't going to recruit him until he officially said, ‘listen, I've had a change of heart and I want to open my recruitment up,'" said Keatts. "While he was committed and while Armon was saying he was going to Missouri, Indiana wouldn't recruit him, and I respect that about Mike Davis' program."
One of the biggest draws about the IU program was its proximity to Bassett's Terre Haute home. But there was also an attraction to get to play for the home state school, one that remains a huge draw for in-state kids.
"I've dealt with a few Indiana kids in the past, and when you play basketball in that state, Indiana is a school that you really, really have to take a hard look at," said Keatts.
Bassett did just that last weekend, making an unofficial visit to IU. It was just the latest of many trips to Bloomington for Bassett, a 2005 Indiana All-Star who averaged 22 points and nearly six assists last season at Terre Haute South.
"He loved his trip there," said Keatts. "Obviously, he's no new face around Bloomington. He's been to the campus before and certainly he knows about their tradition in basketball. Coach Davis is doing a good job in putting together a heck of a team. I think he felt like he was a part of that."
When Bassett arrives next fall, Keatts believes Indiana will be getting a player who can help at either guard position. He's expected to play point guard at Hargrave this season, but his ability to score makes him a viable contributor on the wing as well.
"You'd feel comfortable with him running your team, but with his ability to score, he can also move over and play the two," said Keatts. "For a coach, it's a luxury to have a guy that can play some point for you, but if you need to move him over, he can do that."
Bassett will be polishing his skills on a loaded Hargrave team that also includes 6-6 wing James Eversley, who is going to VCU; 6-2 ½ shooting guard Stefan Welsh, who is going to Arkansas; 6-9 Vernon Macklin, a top-10 player nationally who is going to Georgetown; 7-0 center Jonathan Mandeldove, who is going to UConn; and Maurice Bates, a 6-10 forward who is going to Florida.
"You looking at it like you're a freshman in college, but it's a redshirt year for you," said Keatts, who added that if all goes according to plan Bassett will start at point guard this year.
"By the time he plays the schedule we play and some of the guys we play against, he'll be really prepared to step in at Indiana and contribute."
Bassett A Big Catch For Hoosiers
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