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Silver Creek's Ty Kessinger drives to the basket during the Dragons' 67-58 victory over Princeton in the Class 3A Southridge Regional championship game on Saturday. Photo by Joe Ullrich

A small fraction of basketball prospects catch the eye of Division I coaches as eighth-grader hoopers. Silver Creek senior Ty Kessinger didn’t impress his eighth-grade coach enough to make the team.

Each year, Kessinger kept working at it and the point guard was instrumental in the Dragons winning the Class 3A state championship in his first year as a varsity starter this past season and now — after he graduates in the top 15 in his class — will join a Division I program as a preferred walk-on.

Kessinger will join coach Jason Gardner at IUPUI as a preferred walk-on.

“Honestly, I never thought about it. This is my first year getting a lot of minutes on varsity. I feel like if you look at my basketball career, I’m proud of it. I know I put so much more work in than a lot of people. Someone saw it pay off,” Kessinger said.

Kessinger came up big as a senior, averaging 8.8 points, 6.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game. In a tight regional final game against Princeton, Kessinger had his best game of the postseason with 15 points, six rebounds, eight steals and seven assists.

Kessinger has a 3.9 grade-point average and will pursue a mechanical engineering degree through the Purdue school of engineering.

“He said I was a winner and he likes winners,” Kessinger said of playing for Gardner. “Just mainly the fact that he heard everything about me. He knew I wasn’t the biggest player on my team, but I knew what it took to win." 

Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said Kessinger will be a great fit in this role.

“In terms of what you look for in a walk-on, somebody that will work hard and be a great teammate, Ty fits that package to a tee,” Hoffman said. “He’s still writing his story. With his work ethic and competitiveness, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up earning some minutes.”

Kessinger’s two fellow senior starters — Zane Gross and Jack Hawkins —will also suit up in college. Gross will play for Division III Rose-Hulman and Hawkins will head to the Engineers’ Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference-rival Franklin.

“They got in on him first,” Hoffman said of Hawkins. “With Jack, I think the sky’s the limit with him. With how much he improved throughout the year, his best basketball’s ahead of him. I would expect Zane to be an immediate impact player with Rose. They got a steal.”

In other recruiting news, Henryville’s Kade Badger announced that he’ll also be in the HCAC playing for Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile Jeffersonville’s Tre Coleman, who has an offer from Indiana State, announced that he has a scholarship offer from Ball State.

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