Carlino Getting Feel for Future Home

Bloomington – Matt Carlino is 2 ½ years away from playing his first game at Indiana, but he's soaking up as much as he can about what it means to be a Hoosier. Carlino talked with HoosierNation.com over the weekend while he was in town practicing with the Indiana Elite basketball program...

Bloomington – Matt Carlino is 2 ½ years away from playing his first game at Indiana, but he's soaking up as much as he can about what it means to be a Hoosier.

The Phoenix, Ariz., product was in Bloomington over the weekend along with his father, Mark, to practice with the Indiana Elite AAU program. After bouncing around on a couple of different AAU teams last year, Matt is hoping to spend this summer competing with the Bloomington-based program. That will require plenty of trips from Phoenix to Bloomington, but Carlino has already found a friend in Indiana Elite teammate and Bloomington South standout Spencer Turner to stay with when he's in town.

Carlino might live more than 1,700 miles away, but it appears he'll be a much more familiar face locally than most might have thought following his verbal commitment to IU last fall.

"I'm really looking forward to playing with these guys from around here, and Coach (Bob) Pryor really knows his stuff," Carlino said this weekend. "I wanted to be around these guys and I wanted to get a chance to know the area."

While Carlino is getting to know an area that he'll be calling home beginning in the summer of 2011, he's also getting to know some other top Class of 2011 recruits that are on Indiana's radar. Among those are Turner, Washington (Ind.) sophomore Cody Zeller and Warsaw (Ind.) product Marshall Plumlee, who is playing at the Christ School in Arden, N.C.

Carlino plays on a very good Highland H.S. team that was ranked No. 1 in the state this past season before losing in the state final, but he still appreciates the opportunity to play with a team that has a host of players who will likely get a chance to play at the next level.

"These are guys who can shoot it and attack the basket, and that makes you look better," Carlino said.

Whether he's practicing with Indiana Elite or playing on his prep team, Carlino has already done plenty to make himself look good in the eyes of national recruiting analysts as well as college coaches.

A left-handed point guard, the 6'2" Carlino has just about all the tools you'd look for from a perimeter player. He's an excellent shooter who also showed off some nice court vision this past weekend in scrimmage situations. On top of that, he's athletic enough that he can stand flat footed under the basket, jump up and throw down a two-handed dunk.

Those are some of the skills that IU Coach Tom Crean saw early on, and the Hoosier coach's immediate interest is what won Carlino over long before just about everyone else had a chance to get involved.

"He's so passionate about coaching, and it was obvious that he really wanted me here," Carlino said. "The atmosphere here is great."

Attracting players like Carlino is what Crean hopes will bring the IU basketball program back to greatness as well. Carlino said Crean sees him as a point guard first, but a player who's versatile enough to play off the ball as well in his dribble-drive offense.

"Really, in his system you need to be able to play both spots," Carlino said.

The first member of IU's 2011 recruiting class, Carlino is hoping to be the first of several big names to announce their intentions to play for the Hoosiers in two years. A couple of Indiana's top targets in the class are now teammates of Carlino on Indiana Elite, and he said he's hoping to do his part to help get them to IU as well.

"I hope to help," Carlino said. "They are obviously great players. I know Coach Crean wants all the best players he can get at Indiana, so I hope we can get as many as we can to Indiana."


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