Louisville – Austin Etherington wasn't too concerned about how he'd bounce back from a year away basketball following knee surgery.
His biggest concern was if people would still remember him.
On Jan. 8, 2008, the Hamilton Heights (Ind.) H.S. freshman put his high school career on hold to undergo surgery on his left knee. It wasn't a torn ligament that was putting Etherington on the shelf for 12 months, but instead the need for a cartilage restoration procedure necessitated by overuse as a youth.
It was a surgery that was very similar to the microfracture procedure that former NBA No. 1 pick Greg Oden underwent his rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers, and like Oden, the timetable for a return was 12 months.
Etherington's concern was if he'd be forgotten during his time away from the game.
"Now that (college coaches) know I'm back, I'm not worried about anything," Etherington said. "That was the biggest problem – just getting my name out."
College coaches are once again very aware of the sharp-shooting 6'6" wing, who averaged 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds after returning to the court for the final 13 games of Hamilton Heights' season. Indiana Coach Tom Crean has already been to the high school to watch Etherington workout, and Northwestern, Purdue, Xavier, Butler and Ball State are all expected to by in this week to see him perform.
"It was great (having Crean watch me workout) – just having IU coming to look at you is a great feeling," Etherington said.
Etherington has excellent size for a perimeter player, he's a good rebounder, and he isn't afraid to mix it up on the basketball court. While those are all good attributes, there's one thing that Crean and other coaches appear to be most impressed when it comes to his game.
"(Crean) likes the way I shoot it," Etherington said.
This summer, Etherington will be showing off his shooting prowess with Mark Adams' loaded 16-and-under Team Indiana Elite squad, a team that also includes other Division I products such as Deng Leek, Jeremiah Davis, Darwin Davis and Justin Gant, among others. The team has opened the AAU season with a pair of strong performances, finishing second in the 16-and-under bracket at the IndyBall.com Shootout two weeks ago and then winning the 17-and-under division at this past weekend's Grassroots Shootout in Lexington, Ky. The next stop for the team is Ft. Wayne, Ind., for the Spiece Run N Slam May 1-3.
Etherington's schedule will be a busy one, but when he gets a little bit of time off he's looking to take Crean up on a recent offer.
"He wants me to get on campus as soon as I can," Etherington said. "He wants to talk to me and show me film."
That could also present an opportunity for Crean to be the first coach to offer Etherington a scholarship. But whether or not that happens, Etherington said he's not likely to be tempted into making a quick pick.
"I'm not anywhere close (to a decision)," Etherington said.
Busy Week Ahead for Etherington
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