STEVE HANLON: The kid in the candy store

2014-06-12T19:30:00Z 2014-09-09T23:07:13Z STEVE HANLON: The kid in the candy storeSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
June 12, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

COLUMBUS | The legends lined up on the bleachers for a photograph, the younger ones wearing the historic white jersey with the coveted blue letters that read what they have since 1940.

I-N-D-I-A-N-A.

As in All-Stars.

Crown Point coach Clint Swan had on the red coaching polo. The assistant coach for this Indiana All-Star team, before Wednesday's game against the Junior All-Stars at Columbus North, was taking it all in.

Like a hillbilly at Graceland, Swan didn't miss a thing.

"This has been one of the greatest weeks of my coaching career," Swan said. "It's pretty cool. I don't deserve to do this. I am very lucky."

Tonight, the Indiana All-Stars will take on the Kentucky All-Stars at Transylvania University. The Indiana boys lead their series 89-42. The Indiana girls lead their series 41-35.

Swan grew up in southern Indiana where things were different than here, where everyone is either a Purdue or Indiana college basketball fan. Down there in Dugger it was Indiana or Kentucky. Period.

"It was intense," Swan remembered. "The rivalry down there is unbelievable, it always has been. I expect us to face a tough challenge down there. This Kentucky team is very athletic and talented."

Swan, though, is taking in all of the All-Star experience, not just on the court stuff, where the Indiana boys have scored 140 and 124 in two games against the Juniors.

On Tuesday, the team was at a Cracker Barrel somewhere in Indiana. Throw a dart at a map and you're more than likely to hit one. Front-porch checkers and comfort food. Mmm. Mmm. Good.

Swan ate with James Blackmon Sr., the star at Marion who won state championships in the 1980s, starred at Kentucky in college and has coached two state champions in Indiana.

He is legend and Swan had a Grandpa's Skillet with him.

"He talked about Joe B. Hall and the short time that Shawn Kemp was there," Swan said.

Swan praised our local Core 6 Junior All-Stars, Bowman Academy's Davon Dillard and E.C. Central's Hyron Edwards. Crown Point will play Bowman next season. The Bulldogs already play E.C.

"I'm glad Crown Point isn't the only one who couldn't stop (Edwards)," Swan said with a laugh.

Anyone who is anyone in Hoosier Hysteria lore has played in this series. Oscar Robertson. Larry Bird. Steve Alford. George McGinnis. Glenn Robinson. And now Swan gets to be a part of the history.

The long days and bus rides capped by a night in a packed gym, followed by lukewarm pizza has been different than the norm. But it is a thrill and this thrill is not gone.

Tonight, Lexington. Saturday, back home again in Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"I am very appreciative of this opportunity," Swan said. "It is something I will never forget."

People have been saying the same thing for 74 years.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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