Bloomington – The timing was just right for Matt Carlino.
With his Highland (Ariz.) High School going on fall break last week, the IU-bound Class of 2011 guard was able to do more than just make the trip to Bloomington for Hoosier Hysteria. Instead, he made an extended trip to town along with his father, grandfather and a family friend.
The Carlinos arrived Tuesday night and departed for home Saturday afternoon, giving them a chance to spend some time on campus and to look around the town that Carlino will be calling home beginning in the fall of 2011.
While the extended stay gave Carlino a chance to get a feel for what life will be like in a couple of years, the highlight of his trip was still Hoosier Hysteria. Carlino was one of a slew of recruits who were in town for the Friday night practice, and he spent his evening sitting in the front rows of the north bleachers along with fellow IU commits Bobby Capobianco, Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston and Christian Watford as well as fellow 2011 recruit Spencer Turner.
"I was amazed, and I was glad to be there," Carlino said. "I was amazed that they were able to get that many people in there for a practice. They had told me how many go to it, but once I saw it I was pretty shocked. They're nuts about their basketball."
IU fans are also nuts about the Hoosier recruits, and they've been excited about Carlino ever since he committed in August. Carlino is viewed as a top-25 recruit in the 2011 class, having averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as a high school freshman.
Carlino's future coach, Tom Crean, is equally excited about the Arizona product. While the 6'2" guard has the athleticism and shooting ability to play a couple of positions at the collegiate level, Crean envisions him being a point guard when he arrives at IU.
That day is still three years away, but Crean is already giving Carlino things to work on so he's prepared for that role when he arrives.
"He wants me to be able to be a leader on the floor, to be vocal," Carlino said. "He's told me once I get there I need to be an impact guy for him."
By then, some of the struggles the IU basketball program figures to go through this year should be a distant memory. The current crop of freshmen will be seniors, and IU's top-five 2009 class will be juniors. Carlino suspects by the time he gets to be a Hoosier, Crean will have the program rolling and once again competing for Big Ten championships and making deep runs in the NCAA tourney.
"He thinks a lot of the program and where it's going to go, and that's a very high level," Carlino said.
Carlino, meanwhile, feels very strong about his decision to commit to IU so early. Whether it's what he's seen from Crean or what he witnessed last Friday night at Hoosier Hysteria, he's confident his early decision was the right one.
"I feel really good about committing early, especially seeing what I've seen, the progress Coach Crean has made and then going down and seeing all those fans," Carlino said. "Other schools still send me mail, but I wouldn't think about changing my mind."
Carlino Already Thinking About Future
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