Bloomington – Hamilton Heights' 2009-10 season is going to be a little bit different from what Austin Etherington has grown accustomed during the last two seasons.
A year ago, Etherington was a relative unknown except to the most die-hard of basketball fans. The 6'6", 190-pounder had begun to develop a reputation as a youth at the AAU level, but after missing most of his freshman season and all of the 2008 AAU season following knee surgery he was nothing more than someone else seated on the Hamilton Heights' sidelines to most observers.
Etherington admits that wasn't the easiest of things to go through.
"It was terrible," Etherington said. "I traveled with my AAU team and I'd sit there and look at the (college) coaches and they wouldn't know who I was. It was a feeling like I was wasting my time, not able to show what I can do."
Etherington knew that he'd eventually return to the court, but there was a degree of concern about whether or not he'd ever recapture the attention of the college coaches to the point that he'd be a high-major Division I recruit.
"When I wasn't playing I had this feeling that people would never notice me," Etherington said.
But notice him they did. After averaging nearly 16 points and seven rebounds after his return to the court midway through his sophomore season, a buzz began to develop. The attention ballooned from there, as Etherington impressed college coaches in April during a series of individual workouts and during the summer with his play on Mark Adams' Team Indiana Elite 16-and-under squad.
In a matter of months, a relative unknown had developed into a coveted recruit, attracting scholarship offers and/or attention from Xavier, Butler, Indiana, Florida, Ohio State and Michigan, among others. Etherington opted to stay in-state and picked Indiana earlier this week, a decision that will result in an even brighter spotlight this winter.
Now, Etherington isn't just another talented high school prospect in the talent-laden Hoosier state. Instead, he's a talented high school prospect who is headed to Indiana University, a fact that will make every one of Hamilton Heights' basketball games a big game.
Whether it's the IU fans who want to see Etherington play, the Purdue fans who want to heckle a future nemesis, or the Hamilton Heights' opponent who wants to build a reputation by performing well against the future Hoosier, Etherington can forget about being mired in obscurity any longer.
"I haven't really thought about that, but I know it's something I'll have to deal with," Etherington said about the attention.
The attention is fine with Etherington, and a whole lot better than the alternative. He's experienced that, and is happy to cope with the pressures that come with the notoriety and attention he'll get during his final two seasons of high school basketball.
"I'm not going to hate the attention, but it's not going to affect how I play," Etherington said. "I'm just going to go out and play basketball and have fun."
Whole New Scene Coming for Etherington
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