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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Special player breaks special mark

Thursday, February 6, 2003

I've had the opportunity to see some pretty special high school basketball players in my time in Indiana and Pennsylvania. I was lucky enough to be in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for my middle school years and watch a 17-18 year old Billy Owens, pre-Syracuse, pre-NBA do obscene things to playground rims.

I took to the Philadelphia area while I was in college to watch a kid named Kobe Bryant whose buzz had grown ever westward since he was a high school freshman and lit up Philadelphia Catholic League power Archbishop Carroll for 34. . . in one half.

I've also seen several high school basketball players get their 1,000th career point, a plateau for certainly talented ball players. But rarely do they come in so humble a person as Northview High School's Logan Whitman.

The 6'1 junior guard arrived at 1,000 points last Friday night when he hit two game-clinching free throws versus Sullivan that gave the Knights their second consecutive Western Indiana Conference title and a 15-1 record.

Whitman has been a special commodity as an athlete for quite some time as former Northview basketball coach Jon Crooks commented on Wednesday afternoon. "(Whitman) was coming to our camps from the time he could, like 2nd or 3rd grade. He's always had athletic ability and you could just tell he loved the game."

That love of the game has seen him play in 61 career high school games heading into this Friday's game versus Mooresville.

Rare is it that freshmen get as much playing time as Whitman did, but Crooks knew early on that he had the ability to play.

"I think that even at the eighth grade level, he probably could have been playing junior varsity or at least freshman ball. Fundamentally he was a little rough, but he just continued to get better."

Whitman got court time in 21 games as a freshman where he averaged 10.4 points a game as the Knights talented 2004 class hit the varsity level. A group that lost only a handful of games at the junior high level banded to a powerful bunch of scorers in the 2002 class to achieve a 12-9 record in the 2000-01 season. But it was the next year that the group had their breakout season.

The 2001-02 Knights went 21-3, recording a school record number of victories behind the deadly scoring of Whitman, Clay Huffman, Eric King and Zach Keyes.

Huffman and Whitman lit the Wabash Valley on fire from the perimeter combining for over 140 3-pointers last year. Whitman led the way with a single-season Northview record 72.

"His early strength was from the perimeter, but his game has been developing a lot since he was a freshman," noted Crooks. "He's going to get nothing but better with another year of weight training."

That is a pretty frightening proposition for opponents when you consider that Whitman returns for his senior season with starters Keyes (20.1 points per game this year) and Josh Timm (13.9 per game) along with regulars Craig Greenwood, Tyler Akers and Matt Brand.

Whitman has raised his average to 21.7 points a game this year and already has 66 3-pointers, hitting 45 percent of his shots behind the arc.

One has a sense that the sky is the limit for a team that is 15-1 this season with six regular season games left and a player who seems to have limitless ability.

"He hasn't been real recognizable around the state because he hasn't really gotten into the big-time AAU programs outside the area," said Crooks. "He just needs to develop some small areas of his game that can be coached and worked on, but he's already got the shooting touch and quick release that you can't (coach)."

Whitman is currently fourth on the Northview High School career-scoring lists with Kenny Rowan topping the list with 2,138 points. Micah Workman and Chris DeHart also are a part of the 1,000 point club at Northview.

On Friday night, Whitman will receive the game ball from the Sullivan game during which he scored his 1,000th point. The ceremony will take place after the junior varsity game on Friday night versus Mooresville.

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