After going many years without an Indianapolis-based recruit, suddenly, Indiana State is brimming with them.
ISU received a verbal commitment from Culver Academies center Nick Hittle on Thursday. Hittle is a 6-foot-10, 240-pound native of Indianapolis.
That Indianapolis connection, specifically his Lawrence Township upbringing, mattered when it came to attracting Hittle to the ISU fold.
Hittle is friends with both ISU forward Jake LaRavia and ISU guard Jared Hankins, late of Lawrence Central and Lawrence North, respectively.
"I knew Jared and Jake basically my whole life and I played on the same AAU team [Indiana Elite] with Cobie [Barnes], so it was good to see them and they were all very welcoming. They worked very hard during practice and I could see them as my teammates," said Hittle on Friday night.
Though Hittle grew up on the northeast side of Indianapolis, he elected to pursue his high school career at Culver Academies — the prestigious northern Indiana private school. His reasons were athletic as well as academic.
"I made the decision out of middle school to go there mainly because of the academics, but also the sports. My sister went there before me and blazed the trail. I wanted to challenge myself academically. It really attracted me and the military leadership there prepares us for later life," Hittle said.
Hittle played on the Culver Academies teams that played for the Class 3A state title in 2018 and 2019, winning the championship in 2018.
Hittle played nine minutes and scored five points with three rebounds. in Culver Academies' 64-49 3A championship win over Evansville Bosse.
"The camaraderie and hard work we went through. We were taking mental reps all year during practice. We went through a lot of tough games that could have gone either way. We played for each other and it taught me a lot about toughness and hard work," said Hittle, on what Culver Academies' championship run meant to him.
Hittle injured his foot (his fifth metatarsal in his right foot, according to Hittle) during the 2019 season and did not play in the postseason. He averaged 4.1 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Eagles. In 2018, Hittle averaged 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
"It was out of nowhere. It's kind of harder injury to get back from because not much blood gets down to that part of the foot," said Hittle, who was hurt at Bowman Academy in January. He didn't return to the floor until the AAU season after Memorial Day.
Hittle has a presence in the paint, being able to use his size to clean the glass, but he can also stretch the floor. Hittle will spread the floor and shoot from mid-range and from 3-point range if left open.
"My best ability is to spread the floor and shoot threes really well. I can separate the defense, draw five-men out to creating passing lanes and open the floor. If that's not working? I can play back-to-the-basket really well. I pass the ball really well when I'm being double-teamed. I can get people open for the best shot for the team," Hittle said.
Hittle said he was being recruited by The Citadel, Virginia Military Academy and the Naval Academy — which all make sense given Culver Academies is a military school — as well as American University in Washington, D.C.
Hittle joins Frisco, Texas, guard Julian Larry in ISU's 2020-21 freshman class. Per NCAA rules, ISU coach Greg Lansing is not allowed to speak about recruits until they sign their Letter Of Intent.