Collin Hartman is a funny guy. No, not in the manner of actor Joe Pesci and "Goodfellas" funny (if you haven't seen the movie, rent it) where he's a “clown” hanging around to “amuse” people.
Hartman has a bright smile, an entertaining outlook and, as you would expect, a nice all-around basketball game, which is why he has accepted an offer to play at Indiana as part of the Class of 2013. He also has personality and, yes, that matters.
Take, for instance, his approach to his summer camp duties at Indianapolis Cathedral High School.
Hartman is a senior-to-be standout forward at Cathedral. That brings the responsibility of working the school's summer camp along with the grind of daily improvement.
“I had camp and then (team) practice,” he said. “I've been at Cathedral every day for 10 hours a day. It's a long day. You have a three-hour shift with 5- to 7-year-olds. Then you have another three-hour shift of whatever (age group) to incoming freshmen. You try to get your workouts in during the 45 minutes between shifts, or you go before them at 6 in the morning. It's like a work day.”
Hartman isn't ready for the work force.
“I'm not going to have a normal job,” he said with a laugh. “I will coach or something.”
With a year to go before he arrives at Indiana along with another talented recruiting class (Warren Central forward Devin Davis, Wisconsin forward Luke Fischer, Virginia guard Stanford Robinson), Hartman has a checklist of skills to improve on.
“It's guard skills, get stronger, get faster and more athletic,” he said. “Be able to take people off the dribble. Post up. Guard anybody. It's a lot of stuff. Just develop an all-around game.”
Coach Tom Crean likes versatile players who can play and defend multiple positions. At 6-6 and 185 pounds, Hartman has that potential. He showcased some of that in last weekend's Indiana-Kentucky Junior All-Star series.
He joined with Davis, New Haven's V.J. Beachem (headed to Notre Dame) and Hamilton Southeastern's Zak Irvin (committed to Michigan), among others, to earn a split with Kentucky.
“The objective was to see what competition there is, to get closer to the guys we played with, get to meet the guys we played against,” Hartman said.
“You can play each other in school ball, but you have a better understanding of where people are coming from and what they're about with something like this. You kind of just get closer.”
If that sounds like Dr. Phil meets Phil Jackson, well, is there anything wrong with that?
Anyway, Hartman is not a dominant scorer. At Cathedral last year, he averaged 13.9 points, second lowest on the Junior All-Star squad behind Munster's Mike Schlotman (10.5). Hartman doesn't take over games or put up triple doubles, but he has perspective and insight.
Take, for instance, the Indiana Junior All-Stars' comeback win over Kentucky on Friday night in Indianapolis. Hartman scored seven first-half points, zero in the second half. Still, he contributed in other ways.
“In the second half more people started shooting,” he said. “You step up when you step up. You have to do what you have to do. My job was playing defense, getting rebounds and talking to people. I was keeping people motivated and keeping the team together.”
Sometimes, of course, the shots stop falling. That doesn't mean the rest of your game has to falter.
“At that point, you have to do everything else that much better,” Hartman said. “If you're not scoring, it's like losing a sense. If you go blind, then you have to pick up the hearing or the smelling.”
Hartman hopes to carry that approach to his college career. The more exposure he gets to elite competition, the better. In April, he was part of the Team USA squad that finished seventh in the prestigious Albert Schweitzer tourney in Germany. That was invaluable experience for a lot of reasons.
“It was good to meet guys from around the country,” he said, “and see the different styles of play over there. In Germany, it was crazy. You can hop, step and dribble around. I waited for the whistle, but it never came. I was like, 'OK, I guess you can do that here.'
“It was a chance to see what everybody else is like. How much bigger and stronger they are. It opens your eyes to what you need to do if you're going to go to the next level.”
Hartman is definitely going to that next level. The question is how he'll do when he gets there. Preparation continues with next month's AAU competition as part of the Eric Gordon All-Stars. He'll also make some unofficial visits to IU where he'll participate in open gym with current Hoosier players.
Davis did the open gym last week. Hartman, who is ranked No. 110 in the Class of 2013 according to Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, hopes to do the same soon.
Travel challenges will make it more difficult for Fischer and Robinson to participate in open gym. Robinson, in particular, doesn't have a lot of time to swing by Bloomington. He just finished the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Virginia, which wrapped up last weekend. He averaged 9.6 points (with a high of 24, one of the highest of anyone at the camp), 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
He has his own July AAU battles to fight as part of Team Takeover.
As for Hartman, he and Davis plan on rooming together when they get to IU. They're eager to join a program that has returned to national relevance (the Hoosiers are preseason No. 1).
“The coaching staff is great,” he said. “They're working every day to get everybody better. The players are putting in the time. Everybody is all energy and improvement. We can't wait to be part of that.”