With so much talent in the Wabash Valley, former Northview coach Jon Crooks, former high school, college and professional basketball coach Jon Stuckey and WTHI's Will Framtpon had a conversation about an All-Star game. The conversation will become a reality Friday as WTHI sponsors the WTHI All-Star Basketball Extravaganza at North Clay Middle School.
"Any time a kid has a chance to play on a bigger stage against elite competition, it helps them out," Stuckey said.
Stuckey said he is partial to this community because he grew up here.
Stuckey, who spent four seasons as the student basketball manager at Indiana University, one season each as an assistant coach at Bloomington North, Northview High School, Vanguard (Fla.) High, Western Carolina University, one season as an assistant and one as head coach and general manager of the IBA's Wisconsin Blast and two seasons as the assistant coach at Barton County Community College, said when Northview graduate and Indiana State-bound guard Logan Whitman wasn't selected as an Indiana All-Star, something needed to be done for him.
"There is nothing (All-Star related) locally for basketball players," Crooks said. "If you don't play in an All-Star game up north or down south, you really don't get to be in one."
Whitman will join high school teammates Zack Keyes, Tyler Akers, and Josh Timm as members of the East team Friday. Also on the East squad are Bil Duany (Bloomington North), Jon Neill (Bloomfield), Roger Harden (Clay City), Stuart Bishop (Greencastle) and Andrew Barr (West Vigo).
The East will face a West squad featuring Mike Davis Jr., who is the son of Indiana University head coach Mike Davis. Terre Haute North standouts Wendell Mardis and Marc O'Leary will also be on the West squad along with Jeremy Locke and Chad Talpas of Terre Haute South. Sullivan's Kyle Lane and Jeffrey Moore along with Shakamak's Josh Netherlain and Evansville Central's Kyle Tabor round out the West squad.
In addition to the game, Crooks, Stuckey, Whitman and IU players Mike Roberts and Patrick Ewing Jr. will have a youth skills clinic Friday at 5:30 p.m. before the game. Stuckey, who currently works at IU used his association with the university to draw Ewing and Roberts to Brazil for the game.
"The kids are always looking to get out in the community and it shines a good light on the program," Stuckey said Tuesday.
Crooks feels that with Hoosiers in the arena, a larger crowd will be drawn to see them.
"I know there are a lot of IU fans in the Wabash Valley," he said. "It's good any time you can get a basketball player that is well known. We'll bring them in and just go out and have a good time."
Crooks hopes the All-Star event will become annual. He thinks it could even eventually blossom into a junior versus senior affair.
"Anything can generate interest in basketball," Crooks said. "Hopefully we can get a few threes and a few dunks and get the fans excited."