Armon Bassett's destination precedes him.
The 6-2, 180-pound IU-bound point guard from Terre Haute is spending the 2005-06 season in the relative obscurity that is prep school basketball, refining his tools and skills at Hargrave Military School in Chatham, Va. The crowds either home or away aren't what they will be when Bassett suits up in Hoosier red next winter, but even the most sparsely populated arenas has its voices.
"Everyone knows I'm going to Indiana," said Bassett, who signed with the Hoosiers in November. "I had people in the stands actually taunting me."
The taunts were not only about his decision to go to Indiana, but also because of the fact he was recently named Scout.com's No. 1 point guard in the prep school ranks, a fact not lost on many of the players and fans in attendance at the high-profile National Prep Tip-Off Classic in Barrington, R.I., Nov. 18-20.
Add in the fact Bassett plays at Hargrave, one of the country's best prep school programs, and Bassett is already someone fans love to hate.
"I had people saying, ‘he's the No. 1 point guard, and he's going to Indiana next year,'" said Bassett. "That's the kind of stuff you get a lot.
"Also, playing at Hargrave, we're going to get everyone's best game, and that's going to help get me prepared for next year. I know everyone wants to beat Indiana. I don't care if they're up or down, a win against Indiana can make a team's season."
After a couple of down years, Indiana hopes to return to prominence this season, and the team's 6-2 start suggests they might do just that. Bassett, meanwhile, hopes to be a big part of continued success beginning next season. His success at Hargrave suggests he can do that. He's averaging 15.8 points, 7.1 assists and 2.5 steals while helping Hagrave to a 10-2 record while also shooting 52 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 91 percent at the free-throw line.
The opportunity to play against elite, top-25 players such as Derrick Caracter and Paul Harris (Notre Dame Academy) and Tywon Lawson (Oak Hill Academy) while also playing with top-15 forward Vernon Macklin on a daily basis has done a great deal for Bassett's confidence as well.
"When I first got to Hargrave at open gym, I was surprised how I was dominating," said Bassett, an Indiana All-Star a year ago out of Terre Haute South H.S. "I felt like I was in high school. In the games, I've been able to do what I've been able to do for a long time. It's definitely a confidence boost being able to do those things."
Bassett also believes he's made strides in terms of his leadership on the court. It's an area that he's always tried to lead by example, but his coaches have tried to impress upon him that being a vocal leader is now even more critical with his move to the point guard position.
"It's kind of hard – some teammates and kids don't want to respond to another teammate on the court and I tried to lead by example, not saying much to anybody," said Bassett. "A lot of coaches told me I have to become a vocal leader I'm doing that this year. All my teammates like playing with me and they know they can talk to me."
Bassett also knows that his role is now much more about moving the ball on offense and getting the ball to his teammates.
"I know I can go out and put 25 or 30 on the stat sheet every night, but I'm trying to keep my teammates happy," said Bassett. "My big man that's going to Georgetown (Macklin), he's probably a McDonald's All-American, and when he tells me to get him the ball, I'm going to get him the ball."
Bassett's play has turned some heads among national recruiting analysts, many of whom have been moving him up in their respective national rankings. He's now appearing in most top-100 rankings, and his stock figures to continue to rise as the season wears on.
His reputation as well as his destination that is now preceding him.
Armon Bassett Part III
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