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April 8, 2013

THB Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Korn sets a new bar at Frankton

FRANKTON, Ind. — It’s been more than a month, but Aaron Korn still can’t forget Frankton’s final loss of the boys basketball season.

A thriller with Wapahani came down to the closing seconds of a second overtime period before a tip-in at the buzzer gave the Raiders a 52-50 victory and a Class 2A sectional championship at Lapel.

“That was pretty tough,” Korn said this weekend, his voice seemingly trailing all the way back to that March 2 evening. “Double overtime, a last-second tip-in, I’m still not over that.”

It’s one of the few stories the Eagles’ star has helped to author over the past three seasons that does not have a happy ending.

Korn averaged 23 points and eight rebounds per game this season as Frankton set a school record with 18 wins. That came on the heels of the program’s first sectional championship in the spring of 2012, and this summer the 6-foot-4 shooting guard will become the first player in school history to compete for the Indiana Junior All-Stars.

It’s fair to wonder what’s left for Korn to accomplish. He can’t wait to find out.

The final chapter of his high school career begins with the honor of being named The Herald Bulletin’s 2013 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

And Korn is hoping that’s not the last title he adds to his burgeoning collection.

“I’m just ready for next year already,” he said. “I think everybody is.”

The Eagles will lose just two seniors from this year’s roster, and they’re sure to open the season among the favorites to avenge their sectional loss.

There’s talk of stretching even further into the postseason, but Korn has a busy late spring and summer ahead first.

He spent much of his spring break not on a distant beachfront but traveling and assessing his college options.

Korn reportedly has scholarship offers from NAIA schools St. Francis and Indiana Wesleyan, NCAA Division II schools Rollins and Hillsdale and Mid-American Conference stalwart Miami (Ohio) in college basketball’s top division.

He’s also reportedly drawn some level of interest from a host of other Division I institutions including IPFW, Iowa, Indiana State, Valparaiso, Ball State, Wright State, Mercer, Wisconsin, Stetson and William & Mary.

His recruitment figures to pick up exponentially in the coming weeks and months as Korn digs into the AAU season. He’d like to make a decision in the fall, sometime before the start of his senior season.

That choice will allow him to play with far fewer distractions. But it also ensures the focus will be on the team’s accomplishments and not his individual future.

Those closest to Korn would not be surprised if the latter rationale outweighs the former.

“I think one of his greatest assets is probably the fact that even with the outstanding player he is and everything he deserves that goes along with that, the fact that he’s an outstanding young man and person,” Frankton coach Brent Brobston said. “He’s really what you want every one of your young men to be like as a coach.”

When Korn talks about his excitement for next season, he never mentions individual goals. There’s no talk of statistics, or even the possibility of playing for the Indiana All-Stars in the annual series against Kentucky.

In fact, Korn expresses near astonishment that he’ll be part of the junior team this summer. He talks about all of the outstanding talent in the Class of 2014 across the state and how much of an honor it is to be included among their number.

“I never thought I’d be a part of that,” he said. “Just to be a part of that class, it was a nice surprise.”

There could be more surprises ahead.

Korn is spending most of his time these days in the weight room, lifting and adding muscle for next season. He believes adding strength is one of the biggest improvements he can make in his game this offseason.

And the goal for his senior year is simple — get back to the regional and, hopefully, beyond.

“His best attribute as a player is that he’s a great teammate,” Brobston said. “He’s very unselfish. He cares more about winning than anything else.”

When Korn bumps into his teammates in the hallways at school, he can feel their excitement building for next season, too.

The loss to Wapahani will not soon be forgotten. It will be used as fuel all summer, and it will serve as a reminder of how hard the Eagles must work to reach their goals.

There’s one more act remaining in Korn’s remarkable Frankton career. He intends to make it a showstopper.

“That environment, just for the sectional championship game, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a better environment,” Korn said. “But there’s always next year.”

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