GARY | A year ago very few people knew Arthur Haggard's name outside of Gary. He was one of the "other guys" on Bowman Academy's boys basketball team.
It was Davon Dillard, Justin King and Antonio Pipkin who led the Eagles to the Class 2A state championship.
But quietly, unassumingly, Haggard scored 15 points in Bowman's 86-73 win over Linton-Stockton at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Not much has changed this year. Most coaches and opposing players probably don't know Haggard's name either. But he does have a nickname known through the Midwest.
"Every time I touch the ball everyone yells the same thing," Haggard said. "They all scream, 'Shooter.'"
Haggard averages 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals a game. He shoots 45 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe.
His number is 2 on the roster, but it should probably be "3" as Class 3A No. 2 Bowman (12-2) travels to 4A No. 2 Carmel (9-1) on Saturday night for a game Bowman coach Marvin Rea is calling, "The Clash of the Titans."
Carmel is the defending 4A state champion and it is rare to have two state champs in Indiana on the same court in the regular season.
"They are very good at what they do and we try to be good at what we do," Rea said.
Carmel attempts to slow down the game and run a precision half-court offense where possessions are limited and of the highest concern. Bowman is the polar opposite.
"We have to play our game and hit our shots," Rea said.
That's where Haggard steps in. He received his first D-I offer this week with Chicago State making the call. Buffalo, Detroit and Western Michigan also have the 6-foot-3 wing on their wish list.
The fact that Haggard is even playing hoops is a family mystery. His father, Arthur Haggard Jr., was the quarterback at Lew Wallace in 1989 when the Hornets won Gary's only sectional championship.
He played college ball at Knoxville College in Tennessee.
"My dad wanted me to play football, he did his best," Haggard III said. "I've seen some tapes of his games and some of his old uniforms. So I played and I was pretty good at it.
"But I wanted to play basketball. It was a tough pill for him to swallow."
The honor-roll student worked hard in the gym to jump out of the shadows. Lonely hours in an empty gym saw him put up hundreds of shots to improve.
Shot after shot after shot he climbed the ladder of respectability.
"The biggest difference is he's become more consistent," Rea said. "He scored 18 now and then last year but also had some pretty poor game, too. This year he's knocking them down. I swear every time the ball leaves his hand it's going in."
Haggard and the entire Eagles team is pumped for this trip down south and they share the same reason.
"It's another test," Haggard said of Carmel. "We look forward to it since everyone thought 2A was a breeze for us last year."