Mack Mercer hopes the second half of his senior basketball season makes up for the first.
Mercer, a 6-9 forward from Plymouth High School, was hospitalized for a week with a staph infection and in December was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a rare disorder in which copper accumulates in tissues, usually in the liver.
“I’m on medicine now that basically flushes the copper out of the system,” said Mercer, who was one of six core members of the IndyStar Indiana Junior All-Star team a year ago. “I’ve been on it for two or three weeks now and feel like I have a lot more energy.”
Mercer, who has signed with Belmont, returned to the court last week for the first time since Dec. 20. In eight games this season, he is averaging 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots, but he played several of those games feeling lethargic and less than 100 percent.
Mercer is still working to regain the 20 pounds he lost from his 225-pound frame.
“It’s been pretty frustrating, but it teaches you to be patient,” he said. “You never know when basketball can be taken away. It felt really good to get back out there. Now I just need to get my strength and conditioning back where it needs to be. Before, I had no energy and really wasn’t playing very well.”
Plymouth has struggled to a 4-7 record after going 21-4 and making it to a Class 3A regional championship last year. But a healthy Mercer should make a major difference for the Pilgrims down the stretch.
“I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Another Junior All-Star from last season, Kokomo guard Tayler Persons, has missed his senior season up to this point with an anterior cruciate ligament tear to his left knee. Persons, a Northern Kentucky recruit who intends to return before the end of the season, played on the same travel team with Mercer last summer.
“I’ve told him to stay positive,” Mercer said. “It’s not similar injuries that we had, but both of our senior years probably haven’t gone the way we wanted them to. I know he’s got a great future ahead of him though.”
Marion senior guard James Blackmon Jr. was selected for the U.S. Junior National Select Team that will play an international team of all-stars at the Nike Hoop Summit on April 12 in Portland, Ore. Blackmon, an Indiana recruit, is one of 10 high school seniors to make the team. He recently surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his career. … Park Tudor senior Trevon Bluiett was one of six high school players honored by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association for its Player of the Week program after leading the Panthers to the Marion County tournament title for the second consecutive year. Bluiett, a Xavier recruit, averaged 34.5 points in Park Tudor’s four tournament wins. Other winners on the boys’ side were Evansville Harrison senior Ernie Duncan (Vermont) and South Bend Adams senior Terry Adams. The girls’ winners were Lawrence North junior Lamina Cooper (Purdue), Evansville Mater Dei senior Maura Muensterman and Gary West freshman Dana Evans.