To say that stopping Blackhawk Christian (26-2) sophomore Caleb Furst is one of the most daunting tasks in the state is not an understatement. That itself is monumental as the Braves head into the Elkhart semistate on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Lafayette Central Catholic is the next in line to try and stop and even slow down Furst. But this story isn’t about them. It is about a kid, still just a sophomore, who is doing things that nobody else in this area has done for a long time.
When Furst took the court at Blackhawk Christian’s high school for the first time in 2017 against Liberty Christian, there were times he looked lost. No matter how high of a level you play in the summer, the difference between middle school basketball and high level high school varsity basketball is wider than the Atlantic ocean. Furst was wading through, but there was a certain deer in the headlights quality to his first couple of games, like that win or a blowout loss to North Side soon after. Along the way though, Furst got better and better quickly.
By the end of his freshman season, Furst was considered one of the best players in Northeast Indiana. That isn’t a stretch. More often than not, if you are good enough to contribute on a varsity level in boys basketball around here, there is a reason for it and you are generally regarded as a top 25 player at the very least.
Growth doesn’t come easy after that. Look at area freshmen who have been centers of attention. From Deshaun Thomas at Bishop Luers to Keion Brooks Jr. at North Side, there is always some growth and the those freshmen varsity standouts rarely bare any resemblance to their senior year selves. Furst today, at the tail end of his sophomore season, is a completely different player and person than he was a year ago, let alone against Liberty Christian that first time out.
Furst exudes confidence on the court in a way that wows. Bounce has said before and I will repeat myself now, most Blackhawk Christian games I am shocked that Frankie Davidson is the leading scorer because watching those games, you’d think it was Furst because of the dominant nature of his game and stature. That is not only a compliment to how Davidson plays, but to how Furst essentially does what he wants.
Teams have been forced to adapt to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Furst. It hasn’t worked often. He still averages 19.3 points per game, shooting the ball at a 65 percent success rate in the process with 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He essentially toyed with 6-foot-7 Argos forward Ian Kindig last Saturday night in the Regional title game amidst chants of “you can’t guard him” from the Blackhawk Christian faithful. Sophomores don’t just dominate the space on the floor and in opponents minds the way that Furst does.
It is special.
So to is his demeanor and his candor. Interviewing most high school freshmen is like talking to a brick wall. As sophomores, they can graduate to something the level of an acorn squash. Furst is more refined. He knows that he is going to be a focal point and while he isn’t the time to bask in the glow, he has certainly prepared himself. For the common fan, that probably isn’t important. But for those in my line of work, it means everything.
It also means, combined with his on court expansion, that Furst is ready for what is next. No wonder college coaches are already falling all over themselves to try and woo him toward their campus. Heck, Bounce has seen Purdue’s Matt Painter more than my own father during this high school basketball season it seems like.
This Saturday, as previously noted, it is Lafayette Central Catholic’s chance to throw what they can at Furst. He is used to everybody’s best shot. Sophomores faulter at that notion far more than they do not, especially on big stages. That hasn’t been a problem for Furst, which is so uncommon that it is captivating.
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