GARY | Antonio Pipkin was a freshman in March of 2010. His feet were firmly on one path. He didn't even know there was another road out there.
The then Bowman Academy budding football star was just playing a little hoops to keep his arm strong so he could throw footballs all over the field the next fall.
But a slow turning began as Pipkin watched and learned from senior Christopher Bond in '10.
“That team cared about everyone, they didn't look down on you just because you were on the JV,” Pipkin said. “They were so good, tickets were hard to get. We played in front of a packed house in the JV game. That helped us get ready.
“I am the player I am today because of that team. (Bond) helped me be the player I am today.”
Bond led Bowman to the 2010 Class A state championship. Pipkin leads his Eagles into Saturday's Class 2A state championship game against Linton-Stockton at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It is like deja vu all over again in comparing Bond and Pipkin. The two are identical. Both are extremely athletic basketball players who don't need an offensive set to score.
About 70 percent of their points came, or come, off of offensive rebound putbacks.
“Those guys are a lot alike,” Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. “They are high-energy guys. They both did whatever it took to lead their teams. In 2010 if we missed a shot (Bond) was there to get the rebound and score.
“In 2013 if we miss a shot I know that Pipkin is going to be there to get a rebound and a bucket.”
Pipkin is averaging 12 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. In football over the last two seasons he threw for over 3,000 yards. For three and a half high school seasons Pipkin expected to play college football.
But Rea's phone has been ringing off the hook from college basketball coaches. Northern Illinois and Wabash College football programs may be moving down the depth chart.
Pipkin's eyes are now wide open when it comes to playing college basketball.
Just like Linton-Stockton standout Austin Karazsia, a 6-foot-8 quarterback turned basketball player, Pipkin's future is likely to be in high-top basketball sneakers.
Karazsia led the state in passing yards the last two years and has gotten zero college football offers. Now, D-I basketball schools are calling.
When Carmel's Mark Herrmann led his basketball team to the 1977 state championship, he was an extreme oddity. He went on to star at Purdue and in the NFL as a quarterback.
That's what he was, a quarterback.
“Things are changing,” Rea said. “Basketball is becoming more multi-sport athletes. I love football guys coming out. Antonio is the perfect example of a great athlete who has really risen on the basketball court.”
Bond did not play football, but he did lead Bowman to a state championship on the hardcourt. That's what Pipkin wants to do on Saturday.
“Bond had the will to get the job done,” Pipkin said. “He played hard every second. He'd knock down the rebounds. He had a good mid-range game. He helped his team win.
“That's what I plan on doing on Saturday.”