INDIANAPOLIS -- Point guard Bryant McIntosh gets the get-stronger message. He really does. He's listed at 155 thin pounds stretched along a 6-2 frame. That's fine for thriving at Greensburg High School. It won't work at the college level. He knows it, and in case he forgets, college coaches such as Purdue's Matt Painter and Indiana's Tom Crean are letting him know.
“They want me to get stronger,” he says. “College basketball is really physical, so I have to get stronger to play at that level. I have to be able to take the physicality of taking it to the basket and handle it on defense, too. Give them a bump.”
McIntosh takes it to such heart, he lifts three to four times a week, including during the hectic schedule of this week's Adidas Invitational. For instance, on Thursday morning he got up early to lift weights, then played in a pair of games.
“It's a grind, but it's no big deal,” he says. “I just have to stay hydrated and (eat).”
McIntosh is a rapidly rising member of the Class of 2014. Last high school season, as a sophomore, he led Greensburg to a 23-1 record and a sectional championship. That performance, plus a solid spring effort for the Eric Gordon All-Stars U16 team, got him college coaching attention.
“I think I took people by surprise,” he says. “I'm being a little more aggressive offensively. That's caught people a little off guard. I wasn't as aggressive last year.”
McIntosh showed that aggression at the Adidas Invitational. He had 16 points to fuel an Eric Gordon comeback that came up just short against a strong Atlanta Celtics team (the Celtics won 72-69). He added 16 more points in Eric Gordon's win over the Ohio Basketball Club.
McIntosh can shoot, a big reason why, in late May, he got to play up a year with the Eric Gordon All-Stars U-17 team that includes V.J. Beachem, Devin Davis, Collin Hartman and Basil Smotherman. All are committed to major colleges.
His shooting struggled in June, but picked back up at the Adidas Invitational. His arsenal includes pull-up jumpers and inside floaters.
“I've been struggling with shooting the ball, but it's started to pick back up,” he says. “I want to show people I'm not a streaky shooter. That I'm a good shooter.”
Coaches have noticed. IU associate head coach Steve McClain watched a couple of his games, as did Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and assistant coach Martin Ingelsby. There were as many as 100 high-profile coaches surrounding a game at North Central High School at one point, including New Mexico coach Steve Alford.
IU and Purdue lead a recruiting pack that also includes Xavier, Indiana State and Michigan. Indiana State and Kent State have offered scholarships. McIntosh has made unofficial visits to Indiana and Purdue, among others.
“They're all showing quite a bit of interest,” he says.
The interest of Purdue and Indiana has been especially appreciated, McIntosh added.
“I like that they're in-state schools. Everybody follows them. It's close to home. That's what's nice about them. Plus, everybody in the state wants to go to them. It would be a real neat experience to go there and represent your state.”
New Mexico has recently joined the recruiting fray. McIntosh says that was a surprise, but credited his New Castle connection (McIntosh is originally from New Castle; Alford is a former Mr. Basketball from New Castle).
“I've talked to New Mexico quite a bit. Coach Alford was an idol when I was growing up. I watched old tapes of him.”
McIntosh says he wants to use the three-week July evaluation period as a springboard for improvement and more recruiting interest.
“I'm looking to impress coaches and play the way I'm capable of playing,” he says. “See who comes out and shows interest in me. That's how we'll go about it.”