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High Schools

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Boys All-Stars
What: Indiana vs. Kentucky
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Freedom Hall, Louisville
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Former New Haven star V.J. Beachem, a Notre Dame recruit, has been having fun in during the week leading up to the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star games.

Stars working hard

Tough week of practices before Kentucky games

For one week, the best Indiana boys high school basketball seniors/graduates play four games at four sites around Indiana and Kentucky, while also enduring grueling two-a-day practice sessions at Marian University.

All with the goal of beating the Kentucky All-Stars.

“We either play games or double practices every single day,” said Indiana assistant Kevin Leising, also the coach at Bluffton. “I have been amazed with how the kids have held together. Our practices are brutal because these kids are the best on their team and being guarded by the best of another team. That’s a typical all-star playing experience, but not a typical coaching experience. To think they have been about as coachable as you want them to be is fulfilling to me.”

Most of the players haven’t experienced this kind of intense preparations, either in high school or AAU. It also includes nightly film sessions, watching their practices and games against the Junior All-Stars or viewing Kentucky in action.

“In an AAU event, you fly in and maybe have a walk-through but we aren’t doing that,” Leising said of the differences. “We play games, but most of what we do is the practice aspect. We go through film sessions, but some of these kids don’t spend a lot of time watching video. They might watch a highlight tape, but to actually watch it with a coach (is new). The players have been so receptive to whatever we are doing. They all have their own agendas, and they should.

“That is very ambitious. The ultimate goal is to beat Kentucky, to make sure that on Friday and Saturday we are playing our best. We don’t want them wore out, but I don’t see that because we have 13 guys, and they want to be pushed.”

The first practice for Indiana was 2 1/2 hours and was expanded to three hours for the second. Those sessions got shorter toward the end of the week leading to the games against Kentucky today and Saturday.

“This is the most in a week that I have been taking ice baths,” said Northrop’s Bryson Scott, a Purdue recruit and Indiana All-Star. “It has been difficult. We just want to make sure how each other plays, and we know the plays and that we are in the best shape we can be in. Even though it has been difficult, it has been good for us. We have been enjoying the process. They have been treating us like a college program. It is pretty busy. You don’t have a whole lot of down time. You are in the gym, eating or back in the gym.”

New Haven’s V.J. Beachem, a Notre Dame recruit, is also on the Indiana team.

“It’s competitive every day, and I have been having fun,” Beachem said of the practices. “We have a great group of guys, and that always makes it better.

“It is preparing us all for the next level, especially off the court the most. You aren’t hanging out with your friends, you are hanging out with your teammates and focusing in and trying to get better.”