Indiana University recruit Rob Phinisee brings a lot to the basketball court, but even more off it
KNIGHTSTOWN – There appears to be a lot of aspects of Rob Phinisee’s basketball game that Indiana University fans will grow to appreciate over time. However, confidence and toughness top the list of any attribute that this Hoosier recruit is going to pack and bring to Bloomington on June 12 when the heralded Indiana 2018 recruiting class arrives on campus.
On the court, the soon-to-be McCutcheon High School graduate is an unselfish, smart, and athletic player, who can contribute at both ends of the court. Phinisee demonstrated as much Friday as he helped the Hickory Huskers to a 142-136 win over the Terhune Tigers in the 13th annual Hoosiers’ Reunion All-Star Classic played at the historic Knightstown Gym.
But more impressive than even the obvious basketball skills is the moxie that this young man possesses.
How confident and mentally tough is the 5-foot-11 guard?
Well, he grew up in the shadow of Indiana’s archrival (Purdue University) yet had the kahunas to make up his own mind and do what he felt was best for his athletic and academic career – hometown critics be damned.
“I just dealt better with the IU coaches than at any other school,” Phinisee told News-Sentinel.com following Friday’s game.
Phinisee was pursued by former Indiana coach Tom Crean, who was the first to offer him a scholarship, and the Boilermakers weren’t far behind.
“Purdue recruited me pretty hard,” Phinisee explained. “It’s not like I didn’t like Purdue at all. I liked them a lot. I still have respect for them.”
He better or it might become awkward in his own home.
His mother, Tanika Phinisee, is a Purdue graduate and his older brother is going to be a junior at the school next fall. However, Phinisee’s family left the life-altering decision up to Rob without applying pressure.
“They really said to make the best decision for me as a basketball player and a student,” Phinisee said.
Phinisee had a nice relationship with Crean and he admits to being a bit nervous when Crean was fired in the spring of 2017. However, Crean’s replacement (Archie Miller) wasted no time establishing a relationship with Phinisee and his family.
“Rob is a name that came up on my first day on the job,” Miller said upon signing Phinisee last November. “We immediately identified him as a priority and began developing a relationship with him and his family.”
Phinisee connected with Miller, who also played point guard, but the young player said the similarities between the two extended further than just on the court.
“I knew that Indiana was going to bring in a good guy,” Phinisee said of the coaching change. “The history of the (IU) program is great.
“We’re pretty similar (people). We’re both laid back off the court and then pretty fiery on the court. Really, we like to get business done and just work hard.”
Phinisee signing with the Hoosiers was the first for a Lafayette player since 1948, which wasn’t too daunting of a task for Miller to undertake.
“We are proud that Rob is the first scholarship basketball player to play for Indiana from Lafayette in almost 70 years,” Miller said.
In Friday’s game, you could sense that Phinisee was simply trying to blend in.
He mostly tried to get other players involved but on occasion, he would score on an athletic drive to the rim or bury a jump shot just to show that he could.
He averaged a team-best 29 points per game for McCutcheon as a senior, but he also dished out a team-high 144 assists (with just 60 turnovers) and pulled down nearly six rebounds per game.
The Mavericks won 46 games and a sectional title in Phinisee’s final two seasons.
“Rob is a throwback point guard who cares only about running the team and winning,” Miller said. “His teammates love playing with him and he makes the game easier for everyone around him.”
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