With one year as a Class 4A varsity basketball player under his belt, Carmel guard Sterling Brown is looking to take a big jump going into his junior season.
Brown, a 5-10 point guard, is getting early Division I interest from in-state programs at Ball State, Evansville and Indiana State.
“Ball State said it is looking at guards in our class and that they like my game,” Brown said. “They said they want to track me a little bit. Nothing too heavy yet.”
Brown averaged 2.7 points and 1.8 assists as a sophomore at Carmel, though those numbers don’t reflect his potential. Carmel coach Scott Heady would like Brown to become more of a playmaker as a junior.
Carmel relied heavily on Purdue recruit Ryan Cline, the IndyStar Mr. Basketball runner-up, and fellow senior Keegan Culp. Those two accounted for nearly 60 percent of Carmel’s offense on a team that finished 23-3 and played in a regional championship.
“Last year was a learning experience in some pressure cooker environments,” Brown said. “This year I need to be more of a playmaker and more of a leader because we have several seniors leaving.”
In retrospect, Brown said he didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable as a sophomore. But by the end of the year he felt like he got into the flow.
“I started gaining my confidence and started to play better,” Brown said. “We had Cline, who was just lights out so I didn’t have that hard of a job.”
Playing alongside Cline was a blessing, Brown said.
“That’s what Division I is,” he said. “You can see that next level, the Big Ten. He came to practice every day and we couldn’t do much about him. He’s a good leader and did his job.”
Carmel will be a different team next year. Senior-to-be Preston Flamion (8.7 ppg) is the team’s leading returning scorer but it should be a more balanced team.
“We’re a little under the radar and people don’t know about us,” Brown said. “But we definitely have guys who can make plays. We’ll show up.”
• Mason Degenkolb, a 2016 Tipton guard, is expected to return to the court this week after suffering a left knee sprain in Sunday’s Adidas Invitational semifinals. The 6-foot Degenkolb was helped off the court after going down with a non-contact injury late in Sunday’s game. His Indiana Elite Central 2016 team will play in St. Louis.
• Kentucky continues its interest in North Central’s Kris Wilkes and Southport’s Paul Scruggs, two of the top 2017 prospects in the Midwest. It is expected Kentucky’s coaches will see both Wilkes and Scruggs this weekend in Atlanta. Butler, Indiana, Michigan State and others are also expected to see the UA Hoosiers. Iowa continues to have interest in both Logansport’s Jalen Adaway and Cloverdale’s Cooper Neese, a pair of 2017 prospect with the UA Indy Hoosiers.
• The second of three evaluation periods is this week. Locally, the Best of the Midwest is based at Best Choice Fieldhouse in Fishers. The tournament begins on Thursday night and runs through Sunday.