In Northeast Indiana, there is no secret to who the next big recruit to come from the area will be: it is Caleb Furst. The Blackhawk Christian junior-to-be is blazing a strong path this summer by playing with Spiece Indy Heat 2020, a group of players a full year ahead in school than Furst.
“It is kind of like in high school, some guys are younger,” Furst said. “We are a tight group. Obviously we have only known each other for a few weeks but that bond is just going to keep growing over the summer.”
The attention that Furst has gotten and will continue to get on the EYBL circuit is only going to cement his status. Both ESPN and 247 Sports have him ranked as the 32nd best player overall and the eighth best power forward nationwide, as well as the second best player in the state of Indiana in the Class of 2021. Only Khristian Lander of Evansville Reitz is ranked higher in the state for that class.
Furst has already been able to bank offers from Indiana, Purdue, Butler, Iowa and Ohio State; and Notre Dame was recently in to see him work out at Blackhawk Christian High School.
He remains coy however on the entire recruiting process, saying that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by it at this point and is just having fun with the opportunities to play in front of college basketball coaches.
One coach that locals may keenly know has an interest in Furst is Purdue’s Matt Painter, who has been a constant presence in Fort Wayne gyms even sitting in the front row when the Braves hosted and defeated Northrop late in the season. Is Purdue a front runner in the still very early race for Furst? Only he may know. But Purdue has quickly become the school that is synonymous with Furst’s recruiting in the region.
“He has just continued to build that relationship and get it stronger,” Furst said of Painter.”[I want to] just take it slow, it is a process and it might take some time to figure out but that is OK; there is nothing wrong with that. You have to find the school that best fits you.”
For Furst, his continued and rising recruitment will hinge on his ability to grow his game and become more versatile. While averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game during his Class 1A state championship winning sophomore season, Furst was able to up his shooting percentage to 63.5 and also show signs of a solid court vision (3.2 assists per game). But his focus this summer has, in a lot of ways, shifted to the defensive end where he averaged 1.9 blocks per game last season for the Braves.
“I am really trying to work on guarding the 1 through 5 positions on defense. That is the way it is in EYBL, you have to be able to do that and that is the way it is going into college too,” Furst said.
“If you can only guard one position, you can end up being a liability. If they go four or five small, you can’t really do anything about that, so being able to guard 1 through 5, guard off of switches on screens, it is a big help.”
Through the first eight games of the EYBL circuit, Furst is playing 24.1 minutes per game while averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds.
“I am always trying to get strong and more explosive; that is always going to be a major thing,” Furst said. “I want to expand my game on offense all of the way around.”
As of May 17, Indy Heat currently sits among five schools tied at the top of Division C in coveted EYBL play with a 6-2 record including going 4-0 during opening weekend in Atlanta at the end of April. That weekend turned a lot of heads with Furst able to play in front of some of the best coaches in the country, including Virginia coach Tony Bennett. Fresh off a national championship, Bennett reportedly watched all four games featuring Indy Heat and Furst. The Blackhawk Christian sophomore went up against a high caliber opponent all weekend, including a win over Boo Williams (Va.) featuring 7-foot center Mark Williams, who was offered by Duke following the weekend in Atlanta.
“It was a challenge trying to guard those bigger guys but it was work, it is always fun. We play so well together as a team. That has really helped us come out with wins,” Furst said.
In the opening week of May, they participated in the Bill Hensley Memorial Run N Slam and had several key moments but the short handed group ultimately was upset in the first game of bracket play.
After falling in their first two games the weekend of May 10 in Indianapolis, they rallied for wins over California’s Team WhyNot and Georgia’s AOT Running Rebels. Next up on the EYBL schedule will be Memorial Day Weekend’s tournament in Dallas.