TERRE HAUTE —
When Alex Etherington made a verbal commitment to Kansas State in the summer of 2012, the pull of home and being near family hadn’t tugged on him just yet.
But it did by November 2012. Etherington never signed with the Wildcats and decided he needed to make his college home close to his real home in Cicero.
On Tuesday, Etherington accomplished his mission by committing to Indiana State. The 6-foot-6 forward visited ISU on Monday and told ISU coach Greg Lansing he’d sign with the Sycamores when the signing period re-opens on April 15.
“Being close to home [Cicero is located in northern Hamilton County, about 90 minutes from Terre Haute] was a major factor. So was coach Lansing and his staff. I really felt comfortable,” Etherington said.
Etherington’s commitment takes a bit of the sting out of R.J. Mahurin’s decision on Tuesday to transfer from ISU to Indiana Wesleyan. Etherington was an honorable mention All-State candidate and he helped Hamilton Heights win the Mid-Indiana Conference and its sectional this season. He averaged 18 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Huskies.
Etherington was recruited by New Mexico, Georgia, Missouri and Saint Louis in his most recent recruitment period. Etherington said Saint Louis offered him a scholarship, but he had already decided to go to ISU. Etherington said that he was recruited and offered by several regional mid-major teams, including Loyola and Ball State.
He also said Kansas State ultimately wasn’t in the cards.
“It was just a little too far. Everything was great about it, but it was just a little too far. When I visited ISU, there really weren’t any negatives,” Etherington said.
So what is ISU getting in Etherington? First and foremost, it’s getting a good athlete.
“I’m really athletic. I’ll play some D. I’ll get down the court. My shooting needs a little work, and right now, I need to get my basketball skill sets down. I need to get my ball-handling improved,” Etherington said.
Hamilton Heights coach Chad Ballenger feels that Etherington is a diamond waiting to be shined. His competitiveness is one of his best attributes.
“He’s very quiet. Socially, he’s not a real talker, but he plays with an edge. He’s extremely competitive. Sometimes it gets him in trouble, but it also helps him get better,” Ballenger said.
Etherington and Ballenger both agreed that he’s been more of a driver than a shooter during his time with the Huskies.
“He’s going to be very versatile. When his basketball skills equal his athleticism he’s going to be really good,” Ballenger said. “He’s still got tons of room to improve. His brother is a really good shooter and I think Alex will get there.”
Alex’s brother is Indiana forward Austin Etherington, who missed most of the 2013 season for the Hoosiers with a fractured left patella. The appeal of being close to Bloomington and his brother pulled on Alex Etherington as much as anything.
“I hang out with my brother a lot. We’re really close. So being close to Austin … that closeness was a major factor,” Etherington said.
Etherington also noted that he likes the Missouri Valley Conference, he likes ISU’s incoming recruits — particularly Brenton Scott and Bryant McIntosh, whom he’s seen on the AAU circuit, and he was comfortable with ISU’s coaching staff.
Etherington has overcome adversity in his career. During his sophomore season at Hamilton Heights, he was undercut on a dunk attempt. He landed on his head and suffered bleeding in his brain. The severe concussion caused him to miss the summer basketball circuit in 2011.
“I was out six or seven months without basketball and coming back was rough. This past summer was the first time I was back 100 percent,” Etherington said.
Etherington is hoping he can make an immediate impact on the Sycamores. One of the appealing attributes of ISU was that he was given the choice of whether to redshirt or not.
“If I wasn’t happy with my minutes, I could redshirt. [Lansing] left that up to me. That was important to me. Hopefully, I’ll be playing, but if I’m only getting nine or 10 minutes, I’d consider redshirting,” Etherington said.
Per NCAA rules, ISU coaches cannot comment on a recruit until they sign with the school. Etherington claims one of two available scholarships ISU has to use for next season.