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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy IPFW IPFW sophomore Jax Levitch said playing at Elev8 Academy allowed him to play college-level competition before enrolling in college.

Monday, October 09, 2017 1:00 am

IPFW benefiting from prep schools

Players say time helped them in numerous ways

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Prep schools can give basketball players an additional opportunity to develop academically and physically before starting their college careers.

Matt Weir (Air Force Prep Academy), Cameron Benford (Hillcrest Academy) and Jairus Stevens (Cheshire Academy) came to IPFW this year after going to prep schools.

Sophomore guard Jax Levitch came to IPFW last year from Elev8 Academy, and he played well late last season.

“(Levitch) broke in to the lineup for significant minutes down the stretch at the end of the season,” IPFW coach Jon Coffman said. “I think it helped him with the longevity of the season because he was dealing with travel, being away from home, and he was a guy who didn't play a lot early, but he kept showing up early, kept staying late, working on his game late at night, always sat at the edge of the bench, never gave into his role and then watched for every opportunity that he got, and he seized it.”

As a freshman, Levitch played in 25 games, averaged 9.8 minutes a game and scored a career-high 14 points against nonconference opponent Olivet.

“I felt like I didn't have the interest that I was looking for at the time, and that was the reason why I went prep,” Levitch said. “I had D-I offers. I waited too long and some of them passed up on me, in the end it was too late so prep was the best option for me.

“That extra year at prep school, you're playing with a lot of college players. We played a lot of JUCO and schools like that, some players that were already in college. We had, I think, 13 total D-I players on my prep school team, so every day in practice, you're going against just a young college team, some really experienced players, so that helped a lot.”

Weir says prep school helped him mentaly.

A 6-1 guard, Weir helped John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio, to a 49-2 record in his final two years including a Class 2A state championship in 2016.

He then went to the Air Force Prep Academy and had a different experience.

“It helped me mentally, really mentally,” he said. “They planned out every single day, so you got a feel of what you're going to do in a traditional college setting. Obviously, the Air Force is a little bit different than a traditional prep school, so you're getting up really early; they're trying to put you through everything they can, mentally, to break you down, and you just have to get through it day by day and get through each day.”

For Merrillville native Stevens, a 6-5 guard, Cheshire Academy in Connecticut provided him a bigger stage to showcase his capabilities.

“My high school program in Indiana was pretty good, so it was definitely a step up from that,” Stevens said, “and it gave me an opportunity to play and see kind of higher level of competition consistently.

“In high school, every now and then you'd play a school where there were two Division I guys, and it was different because playing in prep school, every game, the whole starting five (players) were Division I basketball players.” 

areichel@jg.net