Keith Rupert has noticed a difference in Jared Hankins this spring and summer.
Six months ago, Hankins lost his older sister, Jordan Hankins, a former Lawrence North (Indianapolis) basketball star and guard on the Northwestern women’s basketball team.
No one would have blamed Jared Hankins for retreating or taking a little time off from basketball. Jordan was Jared’s only sibling and his role model. But Jared didn’t skip a beat. He played a game the same week as his sister’s death. This spring he put up a 51-point game for his Indiana Elite Fastbreak team and has continued the momentum into July as he heads into his junior year at Lawrence North.
“There’s a lot more fire to him,” said Rupert, a Mt. Vernon guard and Hankins’ teammate. “He doesn’t bring up (his sister’s death). He’s pretty quiet about it. But I know he keeps it in the back of his head.”
Hankins said he keeps his sister’s memory “with me all the time.”
“Everything she did in basketball, I tried to copy as a kid,” he said. “I try not to reflect on it too much, but I keep her with me in my heart. After it happened, my teammates noticed I played more aggressive — like it’s going to be my last game ever. I watched my sister’s last game on TV. You never want to take anything for granted. You want to go out there like every game is your last.”
Hankins is quickly becoming a mid-major Division I target. Indiana State and Youngstown State, two of the programs showing interest, were at his Adidas Invitational games at Carmel on Thursday. Other programs with a high level of interest include Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Tennessee State and Wright State.
“He’s one of the best guards in the state,” Rupert said. “He’s showing it.”
Among Hankins’ goals for the season are to be named an Indiana Junior All-Star and to help Lawrence North to a state championship.
“I think the sky is the limit,” he said.