PREP HOOPS: Senior Asher Blum enjoying, excelling in lone season with South Side
South Side coach J.J. Foster remembers the first game Asher Blum played with the Archers.
“It was the Leo game, our first game of the year,” recalled Foster earlier this week. “He didn’t play particularly well but had 13 points. After the game, his family came up to me and said, ‘That’s his career high.’
“They put it in perspective for me.”
A year ago, Blum was a secondary scorer to Indiana All-Star Kyle Mangas at Warsaw, with the then-junior Blum averaging just under five points per game.
In Warsaw coach Doug Ogle’s methodical, slow-it-down style, Blum never felt comfortable as a versatile big.
So when a job change by his mother brought him to Fort Wayne, Blum couldn’t have been happier.
“Best decision of my life,” said Blum about joining mom, who teaches at Portage Middle School.
As a 6-foot-8 senior, Blum has blossomed in the South Side system that allows him to both bang in the post and make some plays in the backcourt, including bringing the ball up the court on occasion.
“Playing at Warsaw, I wasn’t allowed to do the things I’m allowed to do here,” said Blum, who is averaging 13.7 points and nearly six rebounds a game for the Archers entering tonight’s sectional semifinal against Homestead. “Here I am allowed to play more free. I feel more like myself here.”
While it was an unfamiliar environment for Blum both in the gym and at school, he had some familiar faces around him. South senior Cortney Shorter was on the same Indy Heat AAU team as Blum, while fellow senior Trejean Didier dabbled here and there with Indy Heat as well.
“School is a lot different, but (people) accepted me right away, which was cool,” Blum said. “On the court, it was more fast paced and I fit in.”
When asked what the toughest adjustment was from Warsaw to South Side, Blum didn’t hesitate.
“Conditioning,” he said with a smile. “I had to get in better shape. That’s for sure.”
Foster’s approach and style meant Blum had to adjust in other ways as well. Foster covets the big body with handles to create mismatches on the perimeter. Blum has been able to provide that, particularly after the transfer of leading scorer and point guard Mikale Stephenson earlier this season. Since then, Blum and freshman Austin Jordan have been the primary players to bring the ball up the court.
“I like looking for unorthodox matchups and (Blum) has the skill set to get that,” Foster said.
Things have really started to click for Blum since mid-January. In the last 11 games, the senior has averaged 17.5 points per game, including a 28-point outburst against Snider on Feb. 16 and 27 points in a close loss to Wayne on Feb. 9.
Not bad for a kid who had the family gushing after 13 points against Leo in November.
“All of this is gravy for him,” said Foster about Blum’s recent play. “As he matures, he is going to be a nice little player (in college).”
The semifinals of the Huntington North Sectional tip off tonight at 6 p.m. with Huntington (18-6) taking on Wayne (16-6). South Side (13-10) will take on Homestead (16-7) at approximately 7:30 p.m.