Some years, the choice for Mr. Basketball in Indiana has been a slam-dunk, the selection obvious before the season even starts.
Some years, it’s been a dramatic two-man race to the wire.
Once in awhile, there are three prime candidates, and once in awhile, the season needs to unfold to see if someone truly worthy even emerges.
This coming season, none of those precise scenarios appears to be the case.
Rather, there are four distinguished candidates, and while, yes, it’s early, it could be a fascinating battle if they each perform as expected.
Fascinating because you’ve got three distinct areas of the state represented, and really four if you count James Blackmon Jr.’s transfer over the summer from Fort Wayne Luers to Marion upon his dad being named Marion coach.
That geographical array could split up the vote some, as could the fact, conversely, that two of the players — Tech’s Trey Lyles and Park Tudor’s Trevon Bluiett — are from Indianapolis, splintering that one area of the state that typically has the greatest built-in advantage in voting.
Also a bit fascinating is that these four guys play together in the summer for the Spiece Indy Heat AAU team. By multiple accounts, they’re friends.
And college-wise, they’re projected for four different positions, with Blackmon a shooting guard, Lyles a power forward, Bluiett a small forward and JaQuan Lyle of Evansville Bosse a point guard.
Their college choices could still potentially run the gamut, or we could still see as many as three of the wind up at the same school.
The 6-foot-2 Blackmon is bound for Indiana.
The 6-8 Lyles, who once committed to Indiana as an eight-grader, then later decommitted, is reportedly down to choosing from among Butler, Florida, Kentucky and defending national champion Louisville.
The 6-4 Lyle recently committed to Louisville.
Meanwhile, the 6-5 Bluiett — whose dad, Rey, coaches the Indy Heat — appears to be one of the more undecided elite players in the country.
Earlier this summer, one report indicated he was still seriously considering more than 20 schools. It could be said that if you’re seriously considering that many, you aren’t really seriously considering any. Of course, other reasonable possibilities are that he’s meticulous in his homework or he’s ultra-polite and has a hard time saying no.
According to ESPN, Bluiett has since pared his list to 15, the options including, but not limited to, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue, Butler, Michigan, Louisville and UCLA — where Bluiett’s high school coach his first three years, Ed Schilling, has been hired as an assistant by Steve Alford.
Anyway, the ESPN 100 lists all four of our Mr. Basketball hopefuls among nation’s premier 41 players.
Lyles checks in at No. 4, Lyle at No. 22, Blackmon at No. 25 and Bluiett at No. 41.
For comparison’s sake, the Rivals 150 on Rivals.com has Lyles at No. 5, Lyle at No. 18, Blackmon at No. 33 and Bluiett at No. 46.
The only other Indiana player on either list is LaPorte LaLumiere’s Sam Longwood, at No. 78 for ESPN and No. 144 for Rivals, and he won’t be eligible for Mr. Basketball anyway since LaLumiere is a non-IHSAA school.
So, it looks like a four-man race, and while political campaigns typically end in November, that’s when the campaign for Mr. Basketball 2014 will just begin heating up.
Should be a fun one.