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Sunday, May 05, 2019 1:00 am

Furst shows skills during local AAU tournament

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

For a high school player of Caleb Furst's ability, basketball season never really ends.

Barely six weeks after leading Class A Blackhawk Christian to the first state championship in school history, the 6-foot-8 Furst is been back on the court with his AAU team, Indy Heat 2020, with whom he will spend his summer taking on all comers at tournaments around the country.

The tournament circuit winds its way through Fort Wayne this week as more than 300 teams descended on the Summit City to take part in the Bill Hensley Memorial Run N Slam at Spiece Fieldhouse and area high schools. Furst and Indy Heat won all three of their games Saturday to capture the tournament's 17U Platinum Championship, as the sophomore big man showed off the diverse array of skills that have made him one of the top prospects in the Class of 2021.

Furst is ranked the No. 31 player in his class, according to 247sports.com and the No. 2 player in Indiana behind only five-star Evansville Reitz point guard Khristian Lander, who was also at the Run N Slam with his Indy Elite 2020 team. Furst, like Lander, plays up a level, meaning almost everyone he takes the floor against is a year older than he is. 

That age gap forces him to be tough and consistently challenges him in a way that Class A high school teams rarely match.

“I'm just really learning about the physicality at the next level,” Furst said. “I feel like I do a pretty good job keeping up with the pace and everything, running the floor, but it's just so physical.”

Indy Heat was missing some key players because of injuries, making Furst and his teammates pick up extra minutes. Coach Jason Delaney, who is also the head coach at Cathedral, was impressed with the way the big man carried himself on the court.

“His motor is outstanding, you can't teach that,” Delaney said of Furst. “He's very, very skilled. He's got some really nice moves around the basket, but he also knows how to use his body against (taller players). ... He was able to defend multiple positions, which really helped us as a team and he sees the floor really, really well.”

Furst was named to the All-Underclassmen Team at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League event in Atlanta in late April after averaging 16 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 68 percent from the field.

He wants to eventually model his game off Dallas Mavericks sharpshooting center Kristaps Porzingis and Saturday he demonstrated a touch of the versatility that makes Porzingis so difficult to guard.

In a 73-64 win over the Mid Ohio Pumas, Furst showed a willingness to run the break like a point guard and also use his size to gain position down low. On one play, he grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, pushed the ball up the court and used a nifty spin move to get all the way to the basket before drawing a foul. On another rebound, he looked down court and found a teammate with a Wes Unseld-like outlet pass for a layup.

“(Furst) can put the ball on the floor when he wants to and he's already (6-8), there's nothing you can about that, he's so big,” said Indy Heat teammate Jaden Ivey, a Purdue commit. “He can just get boards and put them back up, dunks, he's just a powerful player.”

Purdue has already landed Ivey, and Furst said that coach Matt Painter and the Boilermakers have been a consistent presence in his recruitment, as have Archie Miller and Indiana. Michigan, Michigan State and Gonzaga are also pushing hard for Furst, though his decision is a long way off.

“I just gotta keep continuing to get stronger and continue to expand my game,” Furst said.

dsinn@jg.net