Armon Bassett found himself in a precarious situation earlier this month.
The IU-bound guard from Terre Haute was itching to watch his future teammates go up against No. 1 Duke on ESPN, but the game's 9 p.m. start had Bassett in a quandary. Currently enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy, the Virginia-based prep school has a strict "lights out" policy at 10 p.m. on weeknights.
Bassett weighed the risks of bending the prep school's rules and the rewards of watching the highly-anticipated match-up and his decision became clear.
Lights out meant it was time to sneak out.
"I snuck into the locker room and watched the whole game," said Bassett. "I stayed down there until 11 and watched until the very end."
The game didn't end as the Hoosiers or Bassett would have liked, as Duke mounted a late comeback and handed Indiana a 75-66 setback at Assembly Hall. Despite the outcome, the game not only showed the current Hoosiers they were good enough to match-up with the nation's best, the contest also sent a message to Bassett as well.
"Really, the turning point for me this season was after I watched the IU-Duke game," said Bassett. "The one thing I saw was how hard not only Indiana plays but Duke plays."
Bassett has worked on adding that level of effort to his play at Hargrave, where he's the starting point guard on a team ranked No. 3 nationally with a 10-2 record. He said his coach, Kevin Keatts, has said he's noticed the inspired play, and believes if he keeps it up, good things are ahead at Hargrave and at Indiana.
"Ever since that game, I've been taking my game to a whole new level, and my coach has been telling me he really thinks I can come in (at Indiana) and do good things," said Bassett.
He's certainly been doing good things at Hargrave, where he's averaging 15.8 points, 7.1 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting 52 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 91 percent at the free-throw line. A graduate of Terre Haute South H.S., Bassett was recently ranked as the 11th-best player in the postgraduate (prep school) ranks by Scout.com, and the No. 1 point guard as well.
He plays on a team that's loaded with future Division I talent, something that's helped both his game and confidence flourish.
"I'm going to be a lot more prepared than people playing against just high school people," said Bassett. "It's really a college setting as far as people being stronger and quicker. For me to be almost leading my team in every statistical category for the No. 3 team in the country, it says a lot about me and how I'll be ready to get some big minutes next year."
The Indiana coach staff, meanwhile, has also noticed his development as well. IU Assistant Head Coach Donnie Marsh was recently out east to watch Bassett play in the National Prep Tip-Off Classic, while IU Head Coach Mike Davis got in contact with Bassett the morning after the Hoosiers' near miss against Duke.
Davis sent Bassett a text message on his cell phone, inquiring about whether he'd been able to watch the game, and with another direct question about his IU future.
"He asked if I watched the game, and if I saw where I fit in," said Bassett.
Bassett says he knows where he can fit in, providing quality minutes at point guard while also adding another outside scoring threat.
As for watching the Duke game, he did it without anyone on the Hargrave Military Academy campus knowing.
Well, almost no one.
"Right when I went in the (dorm) door, I ran into the security guard," said Bassett. "But I made up a fib – I told him we just got back from a game, I took a shower in the locker roomk and I fell asleep.
"I was going to watch that game regardless. I had to."
Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series on Bassett that will run this week. Check back later this week to read what Bassett says about IU's recruiting efforts and how he's trying to help in that area; what areas of his game have shown the most improvement; and a lot more!
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