Bloomington – One of the state's top players in the 2010 class is likely headed to Bloomington next week for an unofficial visit.
Jesse Berry, a 6-1, 160-pound guard from Lafayette Jefferson H.S., said he's been invited to town by new IU coach Tom Crean to watch individual workouts and will likely make the trip with his coach, Scot Bunnell.
"I think Coach Crean called and wanted me to come down to see what they do," Berry said. "So I'll come down, do that and see how it is down there."
Berry turned plenty of heads this past season, averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals on a Lafayette Jeff team that went 23-2. He was among the state's leaders in 3-point shooting, connecting on 49-of-101 attempts from behind the arc (48.5 percent) and also shot 74.1 percent from the free-throw line.
That sort of production helped Lafayette Jeff climb to No. 2 in the Class 4A state rankings heading into the state tournament, and it's resulted in Berry already getting some attention from a handful of Division I programs.
Berry said Purdue, Indiana, Butler, Iowa and Ball State have all been showing interest.
"It's exciting to already be getting talked to, and as I get better hopefully more and more colleges will look at me," said Berry. "I always wanted to go D-I – playing basketball is what I've wanted to do in life."
It certainly appears as if Berry will get that chance. Berry earned first-team All-Area accolades from the Lafayette Journal and Courier in his first season as a starter, and the spotlight figures to be even brighter during his next two seasons of high school.
He was one of only 24 sophomores who participated in last weekend's Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Top 100 Basketball Showcase, and he's establishing himself as one of the elite in-state players in the 2010 class along with the likes of DeShaun Thomas, Dominique Ferguson, Donnie Hale and Travis Carroll.
Berry combines his deft 3-point shooting with an ability to break people down off the dribble and create for himself or others.
"One of the parts of my game that coaches seem to like is how I can create shots for others," Berry said. "I can drive and make a man commit and then kick it out for an open shot."
While Crean will get his first chance to show Berry about the Hoosier program next week, he is already very familiar with the hometown Boilermaker program. He said he's been to four or five Purdue games in the past and has been impressed with what he's seen from Coach Matt Painter's program.
"I think Coach Painter is a great coach, and in the preseason rankings for next year they'll be a top four team," Berry said. "I like the way they play. They're up and down and they hard defensively. I like that."
There's also a draw to stay in town, since family and friends who have no problem getting a chance to see him play.
"It would be good for me and my town," Berry said. "If I could go to Purdue, I think everyone would come watch me and everyone in town would be happy for me."
While that's a lot for Indiana or any other program to overcome, the good news for Crean and other potential suitors is Berry says he is no where close to making a college choice.
"I'll put it on the back burner for a year or a year and a half and let it sit back there," Berry said. "I don't want to make any early decisions."
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