Many players use offseason showcases to measure up against the state’s top talent, but for undecided recruits, featured games can be the last chance to impress a college coach.
In Mack Rathbun’s case, today’s Indiana Class Basketball All-Star Classic at New Castle Fieldhouse is about impressing the right one.
With an NCAA Division I or bust mentality, the 6-3 forward from Burris hopes to receive some last minute attention from a higher-level program.
“I’m not really looking for offers from any small schools,” said Rathbun, who averaged 24.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a senior. “I’d love to see if any big-name schools catch me before the start of next season. It’s something I’d look into, so you never know.”
As part of the Hoosier Basketball Magazine Top 60 workout in April, Rathbun competed against top-tier Division-I talent and played well, according to former Owls’ coach Greg Hitchens.
Hitchens said he received calls after the workout from NAIA schools interested in Rathbun, but the three-year starter turned them down.
The lack of Division-I interest in Rathbun has surprised Hitchens, especially since he scheduled teams like Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Mount Vernon and Hamilton Heights last season to get his players more exposure.
“I think there’s a little lack of respect there (for Burris basketball),” Hitchens said. “To my knowledge, we’ve only had two Top 60 players since they made it in the last 25 years. One being the Jamerson kid, and now Mack.”
Jason Jamerson was named a Top 40 player by the Hoosier Basketball Magazine in 2004 after averaging 24.8 points and 11.2 rebounds for the Owls during his senior season.
Despite the possibility of playing his last organized game today, Rathbun said he embraces the chance to give Burris some positive attention.
“All the good people who came before me, I feel like it’s something I need to do to put the school on the map a little bit,” Rathbun said. “I feel like I’ve been playing for the high school for so long that I need to do for them, too.”
Five other East Central Indiana players are representing their schools in the two Senior Games. The opening game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Cowan’s Stewart Kerr, Randolph Southern’s Alex Welch and Union Modoc’s Willie Eviston will play alongside Rathbun in the 1A/2A game at 6:30 p.m., while New Castle’s Korey Ryan and Steven Bennett will play in the 3A4A game at 8 p.m. Ball State recruit Zavier Turner will also play in the 8 p.m. game.
Bennett and Ryan aren’t the only teammates playing together in the event.
Four ECI players played in the Junior Games on Friday, including Muncie Central’s Tyler Arens, Union’s Braden Norris and Wapahani’s Grant Evans and Jacob Foster.
Like Rathbun, the senior Trojan duo played in the Top 60 workout in April.
While he doesn’t know many of the participants because he was injured during the AAU season, Bennett said he’s happy to be playing alongside at least one familiar face in today’s games.
“Playing with Korey is a lot of fun and I’m glad he’s in it with me,” said Bennett, who will be a preferred walk-on at Butler. “It’s really special to end our careers and play in these games together.”