Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Interest has picked up tremendously lately for Terre Haute North senior-to-be Matt O’Leary, as the 6-7, 200-pounder now has eight college basketball scholarship offers and six at the Division I level after a strong July AAU season for the Indiana Elite One squad.
O’Leary turned a lot of heads during a grueling July schedule of games that ranged from trips to Orlando, Fla., and Minnesota and several points in between.
The Scouting Indiana website listed 15 uncommitted Indiana prospects who “improved their stock the most and played as well as anyone in July,” and O’Leary ranked first on that list.
D-I offers have come from Loyola (Chicago), Jacksonville, American, Lafayette, Northeastern and Furman. Other previous offers were from Division II Lewis University and NAIA St. Francis.
O’Leary took an unofficial visit to Loyola on Saturday. Should he decide to go there, one of his coaches would be former Indiana Mr. Basketball Jason Gardner.
Gardner took the assistant coaching spot that was briefly filled by former Indiana standout Michael Lewis, who had left Eastern Illinois for Loyola but then departed for a job on Brad Stevens’ staff at Butler.
Gardner was an assistant coach at Indianapolis Cathedral last year and coached against O’Leary and the Patriots.
• Bits and pieces — Several other recent Vigo County grads have decided upon their college basketball homes.
South’s Anthony McGill will play for Illinois Central, joining former teammate Jacob Tanoos and following in the footsteps of former local standouts Robert Davis, Travis Davis and Wendell Mardis at the Peoria school.
Terre Haute North will be sending four other players on to the collegiate level from this year’s sectional championship team besides Justin Gant at Indiana State. Logan Shipley (preferred walk-on at Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne), Tommie Bolden (Vincennes), Chase Jones (Franklin) and Jake Newton (Oakland City) will all be continuing their careers in the Hoosier state.
• Head coach Steve Farley and the Butler baseball program have announced coaching staff changes for the upcoming 2012 season.
Casey-Westfield grad D.J. Throneburg, who joined the staff this past season, will now serve as the program’s top assistant coach. Throneburg will continue to serve as BU’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Under his tutelage last season, senior Dom Silvestri was an All-Horizon League honoree. Throneburg came to Butler in the winter of 2010 after four seasons at Parkland College.
• Two recent North Central grads will be continuing their softball careers at Illinois junior colleges, with Lainey Thompson headed for Lincoln Trail and Ariel Jacobs going to Olney Central.
• Former Terre Haute North and St. Joseph’s College football standout Ethan Tyler has started a new job as a strength and conditioning specialist/sports-specific program designer at the Beachside Health Studio in Melbourne, Fla.
He earned a master’s degree from Indiana State in exercise science after graduating from St. Joseph’s, and had served as a freshman basketball coach at North and an assistant football coach at Rose-Hulman.
• Two area standouts earned honors this summer for their performance on Oakland City’s basketball team last winter.
Shakamak grad Billy Newton was one of two Oaks named to the five-player NCAA D-II Independent College Athletic Association All-Freshman Team. Newton averaged 7.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, with high games of 12 points against Missouri-St. Louis and 11 rebounds against Heritage Baptist.
Jared Maners of Owen Valley was named to the second team All-Independent after completing a two-year career in an OCU uniform in which he scored over 1,000 points.
• Two area juniors are listed among the top 25 “top rising prospects” girls basketball players in the state of Indiana by the Rick Bolus High Potential Recruiting Service.
Sullivan’s Rhagen Smith is one of only three juniors on the 12-player first team, while Nicole Anderson of Terre Haute North is the only non-senior on the 12-player second team.
Terre Haute South senior Hannah Lee, who has verbally committed to Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, and Clay City senior Carmela Roeschlein are listed in “The Next 40 Best” players for the 2011-2012 season.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at