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High Schools

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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Homestead sophomore Caleb Swanigan, center, makes a move to get position under the basket during the Spiece Run-n-Slam tournament at Spiece Fieldhouse.

Weighty sophomore draws Big Ten interest

– Homestead freshman Caleb Swanigan has a football lineman’s body.

But all 6-foot-8, 280 pounds of the class of 2016 player are well equipped for the post in basketball, too.

Swanigan plays with the Spiece Indy Heat 17-and-under team and also pitched in for the Spiece 15-and-under squad during pool play at the Spiece Run-N-Slam tournament Saturday. In addition to interest in his football skills, Swanigan has drawn an offer from Illinois and could soon have one from Ohio State to play basketball.

“It’s been fun playing up, seeing the experience and knowing where you got to take your game,” Swanigan said. “Being bigger is definitely to my advantage because I’m not an athlete like some of the skinnier guys. I have to use my size to get shots off against guys that are jumping a lot higher than me.”

That Swanigan is playing up on a talented 17U Heat squad is impressive.

The team features Trey Lyles of Indianapolis Tech, JaQuan Lyle of Evansville Bosse, former Bishop Luers star and Marion senior-to-be James Blackmon Jr. and Trevon Bluiett of Park Tudor.

Those players are among the top-100 prospects in the nation in the class of 2014.

While Swanigan is the biggest player on the team, he fills needs outside of being a body, coach Reynardo Bluiett said.

“He’s actually a need right now,” Bluiett said. “He seems to always make the right play.

“It’s kind of natural for him. He fit right in right away and just came in running.”

Swanigan is fielding interest from Purdue, Michigan State and several other programs, he said, because of his skills and size.

“It’s humbling, you know. It lets you know that you have to keep working,” he said. “Purdue, they just said keep doing what I’m doing, keep progressing. I’ve been to their campus before. They’ve been watching me. My high school plays at a tournament there in the summer, so I’ve seen their facilities and everything.”

Playing with a star-studded 17U group – and performing well – has helped. It offers more exposure and a better chance for Swanigan to show he can roll with the big boys.

“Playing with better guys like Trey, JaQuan, Trevon and James makes me elevate my game,” Swanigan said.

“I just work off of them. A lot of times, it’s being in the right spot at the right time to get easy buckets.”

Baskets aren’t always easy, though. Swanigan works hard in the low block and even players two years his senior struggle to deal with his moves and girth.

All this from a player that picked up the game just two years ago.

“I’ve been playing since eighth grade, and now you’re starting to see it,” he said. “I want to be able to dominate at this level by the end of the summer.”

Swanigan has room for improvement. He is working to cut some of his weight and turn it into muscle as well as gain some strength in his legs to prevent being pushed off the block.

Defense will also be a priority, Bluiett said, for one of the area’s most intriguing basketball recruits.

“He’s lost a lot of weight already, so you know he’ll get there,” Reynardo Bluiett said. “Offensively, he’ll be there. Defensively, he’s improving already.”