LAFAYETTE — Pickup games at the Lafayette YMCA have intensified for McCutcheon sophomore-to-be Robert Phinisee in recent months.
“I have to take my game to the next level,” Phinisee said, “because everyone knows that Purdue is looking at me.”
Purdue has started keeping an eye on the Mavericks’ speedy point guard. Phinisee led McCutcheon to a 3-1 record last month in one of the Boilermakers’ team camp tournaments.
Playing with the Indiana Elite program for the first time this summer, Phinisee hopes he can gain more exposure. Earlier this summer, he played in Dallas. He’ll be in Indianapolis this weekend for the Adidas Invitational. Trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles are on deck.
For Phinisee, it’s not just about being seen by more evaluators. It’s about facing better competition each weekend.
“It’s made him pick up his aggressiveness and tempo,” McCutcheon coach Rick Peckinpaugh said. “He’s going to be going against good players every time he plays. It’s going to make him play with even more intensity than he did last year.”
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The 5-foot-11, 150-pound Phinisee has some growing to do. Peckinpaugh expects him to grow another inch or two and add 15-20 pounds.
Other growth has already begun in Phinisee’s game.
“He understands now how to get to the rim better even than he did last year,” Peckinpaugh said. “He’s a great finisher around the rim. Once he gets in there, he’s got great ball control and puts it up. He’s worked on his outside shot a little bit better, too. It’s probably not where it needs to be yet, but he’s getting better at his outside shooting.”
Thrown into the fire as McCutcheon’s starting point guard, Phinisee averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 assists with a 2-to-1 assist-turnover ratio. The Mavericks finished 22-5 and won a Class 4A sectional.
It wasn’t always an easy experience for a freshman, but Phinisee sees a payoff.
“I learned how to play with poise and run a team, because I’m a point guard and you have to dictate what happens in the game,” Phinisee said.